• cross-coupling;
  • nanoparticles;
  • palladium;
  • sustainable chemistry;
  • water


Three ionic nitrogen-containing chelating ligands (L1L3) are synthesized readily through alkylation and quaternization of 2,2′-dipyridylamine. The charge distributions and natural bond orbital analyses of their cations are implemented by using density functional theory calculations. The catalytic performances of their water-soluble palladium complexes are evaluated preliminarily by using the Suzuki–Miyaura cross-coupling reaction, and high catalytic activities of aryl bromides and chlorides are achieved in neat water. The mercury drop test, poison experiments, and TEM analysis are used to demonstrate the formation of palladium nanoparticles (NPs) after the catalytic reaction. The effects of pendant ionic groups in L1L3 on the catalytic activities and structures of the palladium NPs are disclosed. These NPs are stable in water for several weeks; they are stabilized by synergetic interactions between the chelating coordination of the 2,2′-dipyridylamino group to the surface of the palladium NPs and the electrostatic repulsion of the ionic groups in L1L3.