Super-Reduced Polyoxometalates: Excellent Molecular Cluster Battery Components and Semipermeable Molecular Capacitors

Yoshio Nishimoto, Daisuke Yokogawa, Hirofumi Yoshikawa, Kunio Awaga, and Stephan Irle
J. Am. Chem. Soc., Article ASAP
DOI: 10.1021/ja5032369
Publication Date (Web): June 2, 2014

Theoretical investigations are presented on the molecular and electronic structure changes that occur as α-Keggin-type polyoxometalate (POM3–) clusters [PM12O40]3– (M = Mo, W) are converted toward their super-reduced POM27– state during the discharging process in lithium-based molecular cluster batteries. Density functional theory was employed in geometry optimization, and first-principles molecular dynamics simulations were used to explore local minima on the potential energy surface of neutral POM clusters adorned with randomly placed Li atoms as electron donors around the cluster surface. On the basis of structural, electron density, and molecular orbital studies, we present evidence that the super-reduction is accompanied by metal–metal bond formation, beginning from the 12th to 14th excess electron transferred to the cluster. Afterward, the number of metal–metal bonds increases nearly linearly with the number of additionally transferred excess electrons. In α-Keggin-type POMs, metal triangles are a prominently emerging structural feature. The origin of the metal triangle formation during super-reduction stems from the formation of characteristic three-center two-electron bonds in triangular metal atom sites, created under preservation of the POM skeleton via “squeezing out” of oxygen atoms bridging two metal atoms when the underlying metal atoms form covalent bonds. The driving force for this unusual geometrical and electronic structure change is a local Jahn–Teller distortion at individual transition-metal octahedral sites, where the triply degenerate t2 d orbitals become partially filled during reduction and gain energy by distortion of the octahedron in such a way that metal–metal bonds are formed. The bonding orbitals show strong contributions from mixing with metal–oxygen antibonding orbitals, thereby “shuffling away” excess electrons from the cluster center to the outside of the cage. The high density of negatively charged yet largely separated oxygen atoms on the surface of the super-reduced POM27– polyanion allows the huge Coulombic repulsion due to the presence of the excess electrons to be counterbalanced by the presence of Li countercations, which partially penetrate into the outer oxygen shell. This “semiporous molecular capacitor” structure is likely the reason for the effective electron uptake in POMs.

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