Effect of Internal Ligand Strain on Coordination Behavior of PSP Pincer Ligands

Vasudevan Subramaniyan, Françoise Tibika, Yuri Tulchinsky*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Chelating ligands and most specifically pincer ligands, with their characteristic co-planar binding, usually undergo deformations upon coordination, resulting in a significant ligand strain. Such an effect on the properties of the so formed complex has rarely been explored. This study is an attempt to analyze this strain and its contribution to the overall binding energy and coordination behavior of PSP pincer ligands. Hence, we designed a rigid thioxanthone-based PSP pincer ligand (I) and studied the difference in the coordination properties with the more flexible thioxanthene and thioether-based PSP pincer ligands (II and III). Although with one equivalent of Pd(II) precursor, the three ligands exhibited a similar coordination behavior leading to similar κ3-P,S,P pincer complexes, an in-depth computational analysis pointed out the different contributions of the internal strain energy in lowering the binding energy of these complexes. This effect was clearly reflected when we calculated the enthalpy change of these ligand-exchange reactions. As these exchange reactions are enthalpy-driven, these results could also be confirmed experimentally. With two equivalents of Pd(II), the three ligands diverged in their coordination behavior. Specifically, ligands I and III gave each a binuclear complex, with different coordination modes, whereas the pincer complex of ligand II remained unaffected by excess of Pd(II). Our calculations suggest that the driving force for the formation of binuclear Pd(II) complexes is the relief of the internal ligand strain. With Pt(II), only the mononuclear κ3-P,S,P pincer complexes were obtained irrespectively of the amount of the Pt(II) precursor. In these cases, we assume that kinetic inertness of the formed mononuclear pincer Pt(II) complexes prevents binding of an additional Pt(II) nucleus. This study points out the important role of the internal ligand strain in PSP pincer ligand coordination behavior. We believe that our findings can be extended to other pincer ligands systems as well.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)123-136
Number of pages14
JournalInorganic Chemistry
Issue number1
StatePublished - 9 Jan 2023

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