Cobalt-to-vanadium charge transfer in polyoxometalate water oxidation catalysts revealed by 2p3d resonant inelastic X-ray scattering†
Two isostructural cobalt containing polyoxometalate water oxidation catalysts, [Co4(H2O)2(α-PW9O34)2]10− (Co4P2) and [Co4(H2O)2(α-VW9O34)2]10− (Co4V2), exhibit large differences in their catalytic performance. The substitution of phosphorus centers in Co4P2 with redox-active vanadium centers in Co4V2 leads to electronic structure modifications. Evidence for the significance of the vanadium centers to catalysis, predicted by theory, was found from soft X-ray absorption (XAS) and resonant inelastic X-ray scattering (RIXS). The XAS and RIXS spectra determine the electronic structure of the cobalt and vanadium sites in the pre-reaction state of both Co4V2 and Co4P2. High-energy resolution RIXS results reveal that Co4V2 possesses a smaller ligand field within the tetra-cobalt core and a cobalt-to-vanadium charge transfer band. The differences in electronic structures offer insights into the enhanced catalysis of Co4V2.