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Multifunctional Charge and Hydrogen‐Bond Effects of Second‐Sphere Imidazolium Pendants Promote Capture and Electrochemical Reduction of CO2 in Water Catalyzed by Iron Porphyrins**


Microenvironments tailored by multifunctional secondary coordination sphere groups can enhance catalytic performance at primary metal active sites in natural systems. Here, we capture this biological concept in synthetic systems by developing a family of iron porphyrins decorated with imidazolium (im) pendants for the electrochemical CO2 reduction reaction (CO2 RR), which promotes multiple synergistic effects to enhance CO2 RR and enables the disentangling of second-sphere contributions that stem from each type of interaction. Fe-ortho-im(H), which poises imidazolium units featuring both positive charge and hydrogen-bond capabilities proximal to the active iron center, increases CO2 binding affinity by 25-fold and CO2 RR activity by 2000-fold relative to the parent Fe tetraphenylporphyrin (Fe-TPP). Comparison with monofunctional analogs reveals that through-space charge effects have a greater impact on catalytic CO2 RR performance compared to hydrogen bonding in this context.

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