On-Surface Azide-Alkyne Cycloaddition Reaction: Does It Click with Ruthenium Catalysts?

Tiexin Li, Essam M. Dief, Zlatica Kalužná, Melanie Macgregor, Cina Foroutan-Nejad, Nadim Darwish

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
16 Downloads (Pure)


Owing to its simplicity, selectivity, high yield, and the absence of byproducts, the "click"azide-alkyne reaction is widely used in many areas. The reaction is usually catalyzed by copper(I), which selectively produces the 1,4-disubstituted 1,2,3-triazole regioisomer. Ruthenium-based catalysts were later developed to selectively produce the opposite regioselectivity-the 1,5-disubstituted 1,2,3-triazole isomer. Ruthenium-based catalysis, however, remains only tested for click reactions in solution, and the suitability of ruthenium catalysts for surface-based click reactions remains unknown. Also unknown are the electrical properties of the 1,4- and 1,5-regioisomers, and to measure them, both isomers need to be assembled on the electrode surface. Here, we test whether ruthenium catalysts can be used to catalyze surface azide-alkyne reactions to produce 1,5-disubstituted 1,2,3-triazole, and compare their electrochemical properties, in terms of surface coverages and electron transfer kinetics, to those of the compound formed by copper catalysis, 1,4-disubstituted 1,2,3-triazole isomer. Results show that ruthenium(II) complexes catalyze the click reaction on surfaces yielding the 1,5-disubstituted isomer, but the rate of the reaction is remarkably slower than that of the copper-catalyzed reaction, and this is related to the size of the catalyst involved as an intermediate in the reaction. The electron transfer rate constant (ket) for the ruthenium-catalyzed reaction is 30% of that measured for the copper-catalyzed 1,4-isomer. The lower conductivity of the 1,5-isomer is confirmed by performing nonequilibrium Green's function computations on relevant model systems. These findings demonstrate the feasibility of ruthenium-based catalysis of surface click reactions and point toward an electrical method for detecting the isomers of click reactions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5532-5441
Number of pages10
Issue number18
Early online date26 Apr 2022
Publication statusPublished - 10 May 2022


  • Catalysts
  • Electrodes
  • Sandwich compounds
  • Silicon
  • Surface reactions


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