In the preceding post, I introduced Dewar’s π-complex theory for alkene-metal compounds, outlining the molecular orbital analysis he presented, in which the filled π-MO of the alkene donates into a Ag+ empty metal orbital and back-donation occurs from a filled metal orbital into the alkene π* MO. Here I play a little “what if” game with this scenario to see what one can learn from doing so.
Archive for the ‘Hypervalency’ Category
Chemistry rarely makes it to the cover of popular science magazines. Thus when this week, the New Scientist ran the headline “Forbidden chemistry. Reactions they said could never happen“, I was naturally intrigued. The examples included Woodward and Hoffmann’s “symmetry-forbidden” reactions, which have been the subject of several posts here already. But in the section on nobel gas chemistry, the same Hoffmann is reported as having been shocked to hear of a compound of xenon and gold, both of which in their time were thought of as solidly inert, and therefore even more unlikely to form a union.
Unusual bonds are always intriguing, and the Xe-Xe bond is no exception. It was first reported (10.1002/anie.199702731) for the species Xe2+. Sb4F21- and its length (3.09Å) was claimed as “unsurpassed in length in main group chemistry by any other element -element bond”. Krapp and Frenking then creatively tweaked the bond (in a computer). The counterion was replaced by C60, and the two xenon atoms placed inside! Buckyballs have a fascinating ability to absorb electrons, up to six in fact, from whatever is placed inside the cavity, and so this assembly acts as a rather intriguing ion-pair. So the issue reduces to how many electrons does C60 manage to scavenge from two Xenon atoms, and what is the nature of any resulting bonding formed between these two atoms?
A little while ago, I speculated (blogs are good for that sort of thing) about hexavalent carbon, and noted how one often needs to make (retrospectively) obvious connections between two different areas of chemistry. That post has attracted a number of comments in the two years its been up, along the lines: what about carboranes? So here I have decided to explore that portal into boron chemistry. The starting point is the reported crystal structure of a molecule containing a CH12B11- anion (DOI: 10.1021/ja00201a073). This differs from the molecule I previously reported in having not so much 5C-C + 1C-H bonds around a single carbon, but instead 5B-C + 1C-H bonds. The basic cluster is much in fashion (as B12Cl122-) for its properties as a non-coordinating counterion.
Do you fancy a story going from simplicity to complexity, if not absurdity, in three easy steps? Read on! The following problem appears in one of our (past) examination questions in introductory organic chemistry. From relatively mundane beginnings, one can rapidly find oneself in very unexpected territory.
One approach to reporting science which is perhaps better suited to the medium of a blog than a conventional journal article is the opportunity to follow ideas in unexpected, even unconventional directions. Thus my third attempt, like a dog worrying a bone, to explore hypervalency. I have, somewhat to my surprise, found myself contemplating the two molecules I8 and At8. Perhaps it might be better to write them as I(I)7 and At(At)7. This makes it easier to relate both to the known molecule I(F)7. What led to these (allotropes) of the halogens? Well, as I noted before, hypervalency is a concept rooted in covalency, albeit an excess of it! And bonds with the same atom at each end are less likely to be accused of ionicity. I earlier suggested that the nicely covalent IH7 was not hypervalent, with all the electrons which might contribute to hypervalency actually to be found in the H…H regions. The next candidate, I(CN)7 ultimately proved a little too ionic for comfort. So we arrive at II7. At the D5h geometry, it proves not to be a minimum, but a (degenerate) transition state for reductive elimination of I2 (I note parabolically that the 2010 Nobel prize for chemistry was awarded for reactions which involve similar reductive elimination of Pd and other metals to form covalent C-C bonds). Thus I8 is useful only as a thought experiment molecule, and not a species that could actually be made.
In the last post, IH7 was examined to see if it might exhibit true hypervalency. The iodine, despite its high coordination, turned out not to be hypervalent, with its (s/p) valence shell not exceeding eight electrons (and its d-shell still with 10, and the 6s/6p shells largely unoccupied). Instead, the 14 valence electrons (7 from H, 7 from iodine) fled to the H…H regions. Well, perhaps H is special in its ability to absorb electrons into the H…H regions. So how about I(CN)7? (the species has not hitherto been reported in the literature according to CAS). The cyano group is often described as a pseudohalide, but the advantage of its use here is that it is about the same electronegativity as I itself, and hence the I-C bond is more likely to be covalent (than for example an I-F bond). As noted in the earlier blog, if the potentially hypervalent atom is very ionic, it can be difficult to know whether the electrons are truly associated with that atom, or whether they are in fact in lone pairs associated with the other electronegative atom (e.g. F). It is also important to avoid large substituents, otherwise steric interactions will cause problems around the equator.