Several series of novel diamido, diamino and diimino ligands containing different spacers and heterocyclic donors have been synthesised. The spacers include the flexible biphenyl, the rigid 1,1 O-phenanthroline and various acyclic moieties, while the heterocyclic donors comprise pyridine, imidazole or benzimidazole groups. These ligands have been designed to complex copper and act as biomimetic models of the active site of the enzyme, tyrosinase, and their complexes with copper, cobalt, nickel and platinum have been analysed using microanalytical, IR, UV-Visible and cyclic voltammetric techniques. Attempted reduction of the biphenyl-based diimino ligands resulted in an unexpected intramolecular cyclisation affording azepine derivatives, the structures of which were elucidated with the aid of single crystal X-ray analysis of cobalt and nickel complexes. Computer modelling methods have been used to explore the conformational options of the copper complexes, and to assess the accessibility of the dinuclear copper site to substrate molecules. Computer modelling has also been used, in conjunction with the available analytical data, to visualise the possible structures of selected ligands and complexes. The copper complexes, although predominantly polymeric, were evaluated as biomimetic catalysts using 3,5-di-t-butylphenol and 3,5-di-t-butylcatechol as substrates. Some of the complexes clearly displayed biomimetic . potential, exhibiting both phenolase and catecholase activity.
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