Due to the high bond dissociation energy (945 kJ mol–1) and the large highest occupied molecular orbital–lowest unoccupied molecular orbital (HOMO–LUMO) gap (10.8 eV), dinitrogen activation under mild conditions is extremely challenging. On the other hand, the conventional Haber–Bosch ammonia synthesis under harsh conditions consumes more than 1% of the world’s annual energy supply. Thus, it is important and urgent to develop an alternative approach for dinitrogen activation under mild conditions.
In comparison with the widely recognized π aromaticity, σ aromaticity is a less developed concept in chemistry, especially for unsaturated systems. Moreover, most studies on σ aromaticity have been mainly limited to the ground state of saturated systems; unsaturated species with σ aromaticity in the excited state have never been reported.
Molecular nitrogen (N2), an abundant component of the atmosphere, is appealing for industrial value‐added products. However, its intrinsic inertness limits its activation to mainly metallic species. Environmental concerns and harsh reaction conditions have resulted in a demand for alternate nonmetallic and nontoxic routes to activate and functionalize N2 at ambient conditions. Comprehensive density functional theory (DFT) calculations are performed on N2 activation by boron species, specifically for the experimentally more accessible tricoordinated boron compounds.
Molecular nitrogen (N2) is abundant in the atmosphere and nitrogen, found in many biomolecules, is an essential element of life. The Haber–Bosch process, developed over 100 years ago, requires relatively harsh conditions to activate N2 on the iron surface and generate ammonia for use as fertilizer or to produce other chemicals, leading to consumption of more than 2% of the world’s annual energy supply. Thus, developing approaches for N2 activation under mild conditions is particularly important and urgent.