Posts Tagged ‘Carbenes’

What’s in a name? Carbenes: a reality check.

Sunday, September 11th, 2016

To quote from Wikipedia: in chemistry, a carbene is a molecule containing a neutral carbon atom with a valence of two and two unshared valence electrons. The most ubiquitous type of carbene of recent times is the one shown below as 1, often referred to as a resonance stabilised or persistent carbene. This type is of interest because of its ability to act as a ligand to an astonishingly wide variety of metals, with many of the resulting complexes being important catalysts. The Wiki page on persistent carbenes shows them throughout in form 1 below, thus reinforcing the belief that they have a valence of two and by implication six (2×2 shared + 2 unshared) electrons in the valence shell of carbon. Here I consider whether this name is really appropriate.


R-X≡X-R: G. N. Lewis’ 100 year old idea.

Friday, May 22nd, 2015

As I have noted elsewhere, Gilbert N. Lewis wrote a famous paper entitled “the atom and the molecule“, the centenary of which is coming up.[cite]10.1021/ja02261a002[/cite] In a short and rarely commented upon remark, he speculates about the shared electron pair structure of acetylene,  R-X≡X-R (R=H, X=C). It could, he suggests, take up three forms. H-C:::C-H and two more which I show as he drew them. The first of these would now be called a bis-carbene and the second a biradical.