Profound availability of iron on earth crust and diversely accessible redox states, makes it a significant metal ion in biology as well as to design molecular catalysts and nanostructured materials. Low-oxidation potential and prone to hydrolysis in an aqueous medium, predominantly in neutral to basic pH, of the divalent iron in the active site of the catalysts, results in the formation of bulk and/or colloidal ferric-hydroxide, oxy-hydroxide, and -oxide. However, nature has developed its own strategy to preserve iron-oxide cluster core, e.g., Ferritin, without aggregation in physiological pH via designing protein scaffold as protector ligand. Although molecular iron-oxo clusters, isolated by using small organic ligands, are depicted as potent catalysts, they usually don't sustain under catalytic turnover condition. In this context, the isolation of multinuclear iron-oxo clusters soluble in water and their subsequent catalysis in the aqueous phase remains a perdurable challenge. Polyoxometalates (POM) are themselves small metal-oxo cluster anions where the metals are in the highest valent-state and a diverse POM structure can be obtained simply by varying the metal ions. Depending on the structure of the POM, the available terminal or bridging oxo groups can act as donor atoms to one or more iron centers. Consequently, a variety of iron clusters can be stabilized by using POM scaffold. Thereby, polyoxoanions, extremely aqueous-soluble and oxidatively inert under reaction conditions, behaved as versatile ligand platform to stabilize iron clusters of different nuclearity (n = 2–30) in water. Moreover, different possible structures and diversity in chemical property by varying hetero atoms or metal ions led to the isolation of a unique aqueous soluble iron-oxide and/or iron-oxy-hydroxide nanostructure where a significant number of polyoxoanions were covalently attached, making them extremely soluble nanostructures. This review summarizes the adapted synthetic strategies to isolate such molecular and nano-scopic iron clusters stabilized by POM anions and describes their stability in an aqueous medium and showcases their prospective applications in different emerging areas.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
- Polymers and Plastics
- Colloid and Surface Chemistry
- Materials Chemistry