An imide is a nitrogen-metal multiple bond ligand that is associated with catalytic oxidation reactions where a nitrene (NR group) is transferred to an organic substrate.
Jenkins is interested in iron imides due to his studies on aziridination. An aziridine is a three-membered ring with two carbon atoms and one nitrogen atom that are useful in pharmaceutical syntheses. These five‑coordinate iron imides are postulated to be key intermediates in catalytic aziridination so their isolation may lend insight into this catalytic reaction. Notably in this study, changing the carbon group bound to the nitrogen changed the spin state at the iron center. Thus, these metal complexes required careful structural characterization at the department’s new X-ray facility, spectroscopic measurements (at UT and Harvard University), and theoretical calculations by Kostas Vogiatzis.