Some in-class materials for discussion of the nitrogenase enzyme, including some background reading on the bacterial process, the industrial process, X-ray structure data of the P-cluster and the Mo-Fe cluster, and Schrock's reaction cycle that models the biological process. Also included are the literature sources I use in my in-class discussion of nitrogenase; 2 X-ray crystal structures by Rees, and the synthetic work by Schrock.
I start with the industrial process (Haber-Bosch) of nitrogen fixation, discussing the work that went into discovery of the process, the thermodynamics involved, the chemical engineering involved. Then I change gears and discuss the biological process, 1 atm, 25 °C, emphasizing that we as chemists have a long way to go to solve the problems nature has chosen to solve. I provide links to the original literature and discuss the main features of the crystallographic data in class.
1-2 class periods, depending on depth