Posts Tagged ‘Matter’

Hypervalent or not? A fluxional triselenide.

Saturday, February 24th, 2018

Another post inspired by a comment on an earlier one; I had been discussing compounds of the type I.In (n=4,6) as possible candidates for hypervalency. The comment suggests the below as a similar analogue, deriving from observations made in 1989.[cite]10.1016/S0040-4039(00)99132-9[/cite]


Hypervalent Helium – not!

Friday, February 16th, 2018

Last year, this article[cite]10.1038/nchem.2716[/cite] attracted a lot of attention as the first example of molecular helium in the form of Na2He. In fact, the helium in this species has a calculated bond index of only 0.15 and it is better classified as a sodium electride with the ionisation induced by pressure and the presence of helium atoms. The helium is neither valent, nor indeed hypervalent (the meanings are in fact equivalent for this element). In a separate blog posted in 2013, I noted a cobalt carbonyl complex containing a hexacoordinate hydrogen in the form of hydride, H. A comment appended to this blog insightfully asked about the isoelectronic complex containing He instead of H. Here, rather belatedly, I respond to this comment!


Ammonide: an alkalide formed from ammonia and resembling an electride.

Sunday, December 17th, 2017

Alkalides are anionic alkali compounds containing e.g. sodide (Na), kalide (K), rubidide (Rb) or caeside (Cs). Around 90 examples can be found in the Cambridge structure database (see DOI: 10.14469/hpc/3453  for the search query and results). So what about the ammonium analogue, ammonide (NH4)? A quick search of Scifinder drew a blank! So here I take a look at this intriguingly simple little molecule.


Hydrogen capture by boron: a crazy reaction path!

Thursday, September 21st, 2017

A recent article reports, amongst other topics, a computationally modelled reaction involving the capture of molecular hydrogen using a substituted borane (X=N, Y=C).[cite]10.1073/pnas.1709586114[/cite] The mechanism involves an initial equilibrium between React and Int1, followed by capture of the hydrogen by Int1 to form a 5-coordinate borane intermediate (Int2 below, as per Figure 11). This was followed by assistance from a proximate basic nitrogen to complete the hydrogen capture via a TS involving H-H cleavage. The forward free energy barrier to capture was ~11 kcal/mol and ~4 kcal/mol in the reverse direction (relative to the species labelled Int1), both suitably low for reversible hydrogen capture. Here I explore a simple variation to this fascinating reaction.


First, hexacoordinate carbon – now pentacoordinate oxygen?

Saturday, March 25th, 2017

The previous post demonstrated the simple iso-electronic progression from six-coordinate carbon to five coordinate nitrogen. Here, a further progression to oxygen is investigated computationally.


First, hexacoordinate carbon – now pentacoordinate nitrogen?

Saturday, March 25th, 2017

A few years back I followed a train of thought here which ended with hexacoordinate carbon, then a hypothesis rather than a demonstrated reality. That reality was recently confirmed via a crystal structure, DOI:10.5517/CCDC.CSD.CC1M71QM[cite]10.1002/anie.201608795[/cite]. Here is a similar proposal for penta-coordinate nitrogen.


Pyrophoric metals + the mechanism of thermal decomposition of magnesium oxalate.

Sunday, March 19th, 2017

A pyrophoric metal is one that burns spontaneously in oxygen; I came across this phenomenon as a teenager doing experiments at home. Pyrophoric iron for example is prepared by heating anhydrous iron (II) oxalate in a sealed test tube (i.e. to 600° or higher). When the tube is broken open and the contents released, a shower of sparks forms. Not all metals do this; early group metals such as calcium undergo a different reaction releasing carbon monoxide and forming calcium carbonate and not the metal itself. Here as a prelude to the pyrophoric reaction proper, I take a look at this alternative mechanism using calculations.


VSEPR Theory: A closer look at bromine trifluoride, BrF3.

Tuesday, February 14th, 2017

I analysed the bonding in chlorine trifluoride a few years back in terms of VSEPR theory. I noticed that several searches on this topic which led people to this post also included a query about the differences between it and the bromine analogue. For those who posed this question, here is an equivalent analysis.


Na2He: a stable compound of helium and sodium at high pressure.

Saturday, February 11th, 2017

On February 6th I was alerted to this intriguing article[cite]10.1038/nchem.2716[/cite] by a phone call, made 55 minutes before the article embargo was due to be released. Gizmodo wanted to know if I could provide an (almost) instant quote. After a few days, this report of a stable compound of helium and sodium still seems impressive to me and I now impart a few more thoughts here.


Braiding a molecular knot with eight crossings.

Friday, January 20th, 2017

This is one of those posts of a molecule whose very structure is interesting enough to merit a picture and a 3D model. The study[cite]10.1126/science.aal1619[/cite] reports a molecular knot with the remarkable number of eight crossings.