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The recent recognition that a single metal site is capable of mediating the multiple electron and proton transfer events associated with water oxidation represents a pivotal discovery for the field. This finding has led to a remarkable expansion of known synthetic water oxidation catalysts, and has provided the means to gain unprecedented insight into the reaction steps involved with O–O bond formation. This perspective reflects on the key studies that have advanced our understanding of water oxidation catalysis while summarizing molecular features that are integral to negotiating this complicated reaction pathway with the goal of helping identify new frontiers of discovery for the field.
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