Alkane oxidation catalysed by a self-folded multi-iron complex

A preorganised ligand scaffold is capable of coordinating multiple Fe(II) centres to form an electrophilic CH oxidation catalyst. This catalyst oxidises unactivated hydrocarbons including simple, linear alkanes under mild conditions in good yields with selectivity for the oxidation of secondary CH bonds. Control complexes containing a single metal centre are incapable of oxidising unstrained linear hydrocarbons, indicating that participation of multiple centres aids the CH oxidation of challenging substrates.