Posts Tagged ‘metal’

Caesium trifluoride: could it be made?

Saturday, November 23rd, 2013

Mercury (IV) tetrafluoride attracted much interest when it was reported in 2007[1] as the first instance of the metal being induced to act as a proper transition element (utilising d-electrons for bonding) rather than a post-transition main group metal (utilising just s-electrons) for which the HgF2 dihalide would be more normal (“Is mercury now a transition element?”[2]). Perhaps this is the modern equivalent of transmutation! Well, now we have new speculation about how to induce the same sort of behaviour for caesium; might it form CsF3 (at high pressures) rather than the CsF we would be more familiar with.[3] Here I report some further calculations inspired by this report.



  1. X. Wang, L. Andrews, S. Riedel, and M. Kaupp, "Mercury Is a Transition Metal: The First Experimental Evidence for HgF4", Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., vol. 46, pp. 8371-8375, 2007.
  2. W.B. Jensen, "Is Mercury Now a Transition Element?", J. Chem. Educ., vol. 85, pp. 1182, 2008.
  3. M. Miao, "Caesium in high oxidation states and as a p-block element", Nature Chem, vol. 5, pp. 846-852, 2013.

The butterfly effect in chemistry: Bimodal M~S bonds?

Sunday, July 14th, 2013

I noted previously that some 8-ring cyclic compounds could exist in either a planar-aromatic or a non-planar-non-aromatic mode, the mode being determined by apparently quite small changes in a ring substituent. Hunting for other examples of such chemistry on the edge, I did a search of the Cambridge crystal database for metal sulfides. 


Is dicarbon (C2) a molecule of chemical interest?

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013

C2 (dicarbon) is certainly interesting from a theoretical point of view. Whether or not it can be described as having a quadruple bond has induced much passionate discussion[1],[2],[3],[4]. Its occurrence in space and in flames is also well-known. But does it have what might be called a conventional chemistry? Other highly reactive species (cyclobutadiene is a well-known example) can often be tamed by trapping as a ligand coordinated to a metal and so one might speculate upon how C2 responds to the proximity of a metal. As is noted here[2], dicarbon as a ligand has been known a long time as part of what is referred to as carbide chemistry. In this regard it is thought of as the di-anion, C22- (and isoelectronic therefore with dinitrogen). Thus calcium carbide, but in fact the degree to which the dicarbon can absorb electrons is thought to be wide (as judged by the resulting C-C bond length, see[2]). Here I take a look at just one metal carbide[5] that caught my eye (there are hundreds of others, many no doubt equally interesting!).



  1. S. Shaik, D. Danovich, W. Wu, P. Su, H.S. Rzepa, and P.C. Hiberty, "Quadruple bonding in C2 and analogous eight-valence electron species", Nature Chem, vol. 4, pp. 195-200, 2012.
  2. S. Shaik, H.S. Rzepa, and R. Hoffmann, "One Molecule, Two Atoms, Three Views, Four Bonds?", Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., vol. 52, pp. 3020-3033, 2013.
  3. G. Frenking, and M. Hermann, "Critical Comments on “One Molecule, Two Atoms, Three Views, Four Bonds?”", Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., vol. 52, pp. 5922-5925, 2013.
  4. D. Danovich, S. Shaik, H.S. Rzepa, and R. Hoffmann, "A Response to the Critical Comments on “One Molecule, Two Atoms, Three Views, Four Bonds?”", Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., vol. 52, pp. 5926-5928, 2013.
  5. E. Dashjav, Y. Prots, G. Kreiner, W. Schnelle, F.R. Wagner, and R. Kniep, "Chemical bonding analysis and properties of La7Os4C9—A new structure type containing C- and C2-units as Os-coordinating ligands", Journal of Solid State Chemistry, vol. 181, pp. 3121-3130, 2008.

Au and Pt π-complexes of cyclobutadiene.

Wednesday, May 15th, 2013

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.


The π-complex theory of metal-alkene compounds.

Monday, May 13th, 2013

The period 1951–1954 was a golden one for structural chemistry; proteins, DNA, Ferrocene (1952) and the one I discuss here, a bonding model for Zeise’s salt (3).


X-ray analysis and absolute configuration determination using porous complexes.

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

This is another in the occasional series of “what a neat molecule”. In this case, more of a “what a neat idea”. The s-triazine below, when coordinated to eg ZnI2, forms what is called a metal-organic-framework, or MOF. A recent article[1] shows how such frameworks can be used to help solve a long-standing problem in structure determination, how to get a crystal structure on a compound that does not crystallise on its own.



  1. Y. Inokuma, S. Yoshioka, J. Ariyoshi, T. Arai, Y. Hitora, K. Takada, S. Matsunaga, K. Rissanen, and M. Fujita, "X-ray analysis on the nanogram to microgram scale using porous complexes", Nature, vol. 495, pp. 461-466, 2013.

Lithiation of heteroaromatic rings: analogy to electrophilic substitution?

Saturday, March 16th, 2013

Functionalisation of a (hetero)aromatic ring by selectively (directedly) removing protons using the metal lithium is a relative mechanistic newcomer, compared to the pantheon of knowledge on aromatic electrophilic substitution. Investigating the mechanism using quantum calculations poses some interesting challenges, ones I have not previously discussed on this blog.


Why is N,O-diphenyl hydroxylamine (PhNHOPh) unknown?

Wednesday, January 16th, 2013

If you search e.g. Scifinder for N,O-diphenyl hydroxylamine (RN 24928-98-1) there is just one literature citation, to a 1962 patent. Nothing else; not even a calculation (an increasing proportion of the molecules reported in Chemical Abstracts have now only ever been subjected to calculation, not synthesis). A search of Reaxys also offers only one hit[1] reporting one unsuccessful attempt in 1963 to prepare this compound. Again, nothing else. Yet show this structure to most organic chemists, and I venture to suggest few would immediately predict this (unless they are experts on benzidine rearrangements).



  1. J.R. Cox, and M.F. Dunn, "The chemistry of O,N-diarylhydroxlamines - I", Tetrahedron Letters, vol. 4, pp. 985-989, 1963.

The gauche effect: seeking evidence by a survey of crystal structures.

Friday, January 4th, 2013

I previously blogged about anomeric effects involving π electrons as donors, and my post on the conformation of 1,2-difluorethane turned out one of the most popular. Here I thought I would present the results of searching the Cambridge crystal database for examples of the gauche effect. The basic search is defined belowCCDC-search


How to tame an oxidant: the mysteries of “tpap” (tetra-n-propylammonium perruthenate).

Monday, December 24th, 2012

tpap[1], as it is affectionately known, is a ruthenium-based oxidant of primary alcohols to aldehydes discovered by Griffith and Ley. Whereas ruthenium tetroxide (RuO4) is a voracious oxidant[2], its radical anion countered by a tetra-propylammonium cation is considered a more moderate animal[3]. In this post, I want to try to use quantum mechanically derived energies as a pathfinder for exploring what might be going on (or a reality-check if you like). 



  1. S.V. Ley, J. Norman, W.P. Griffith, and S.P. Marsden, " Tetrapropylammonium Perruthenate, Pr 4 N + RuO 4 - , TPAP: A Catalytic Oxidant for Organic Synthesis ", Synthesis, vol. 1994, pp. 639-666, 1994.
  2. D.G. Lee, U.A. Spitzer, J. Cleland, and M.E. Olson, "The oxidation of cyclobutanol by ruthenium tetroxide and sodium ruthenate", Canadian Journal of Chemistry, vol. 54, pp. 2124-2126, 1976.
  3. D.G. Lee, Z. Wang, and W.D. Chandler, "Autocatalysis during the reduction of tetra-n-propylammonium perruthenate by 2-propanol", J. Org. Chem., vol. 57, pp. 3276-3277, 1992.