Water oxidation catalysis by manganese oxides: learning from evolution
The Oxygen Evolving Complex (OEC) in photosystem II, a cluster that contains four manganese and one calcium ions bridged by five oxygen atoms in a distorted chair like arrangement, carries out the biological oxidation of water during photosynthesis. Since this is the only cluster established in biological water oxidation catalysis, efforts have been made to develop synthetic systems that mimic its structure, properties and water oxidation activity. This perspective provides a brief overview of the current structural and mechanistic understanding of the OEC in photosystem II. It then compares the structural features of this complex with those of manganese oxide water oxidation catalysts and discusses structure–function relationships that inform the development of new catalysts. The identified features should be considered when endeavouring to design manganese oxide, and other metal oxide, catalysts with optimal activity that can ultimately be integrated into photo-electrochemical devices to achieve solar water-splitting.