Chemists have long sought to mimic enzymatic hydrogen activation with structurally simpler compounds. Here, we report a functional [NiFe]-based model of [NiFe]hydrogenase enzymes. This complex heterolytically activates hydrogen to form a hydride complex that is capable of reducing substrates by either hydride ion or electron transfer. Structural investigations were performed by a range of techniques, including x-ray diffraction and neutron scattering, resulting in crystal structures and the finding that the hydrido ligand is predominantly associated with the Fe center. The ligand's hydridic character is manifested in its reactivity with strong acid to liberate H2.
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