The synthesis of copper(II) salicylaldiminato complexes and their application in the catalytic hydroxylation of phenol is reported. Tetracoordinated copper complexes (Cu(Ln)2) were obtained by reacting the N-phenylsalicylaldimine ligands (HL1 -HL7) with copper acetate in a 2 : 1 mole ratio. The reaction of N-(2,6-diisopropyl)phenyl-3,5-di-tert-butylsalicylaldimine (HL7) with copper acetate in a 1 : 1 mole ratio afforded a dinuclear complex, which was not obtained with the other ligand systems. All complexes were characterized using FT-IR and elemental analysis. X-Ray crystal structures of complexes 2, 5 and 8 have also been obtained. The catalytic activity of these complexes was evaluated in the hydroxylation of phenol using oxygen and hydrogen peroxide as co-oxidants in aqueous media in the pH range 3 - 6. All complexes studied were found to be active for the hydroxylation process over the pH range studied with higher selectivity for catechol formation.
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