Periodic trends play a huge role in organic chemistry. Regular changes in electronegativity, atomic size, ionization energy, and other variables across the periodic table allow us to make systematic predictions about the behavior of similar compounds. Of course, the same is true for organometallic complexes! With a firm grip on the periodic trends of the transition metals, we can begin to make comparisons between complexes we’re familiar with and those we’ve never seen before. Periodic trends essentially provide an exponential increase in predictive power. In this post, we’ll hit on the major periodic trends of the transition metals and discuss a few examples for which these trends can be handy.
Before beginning, a couple of caveats are in order. First of all, many of the trends across the transition series are not perfectly regular. Hartwig wisely advises that one should consider the transition series in blocks instead of as a whole when considering periodic trends. For instance, general increases in a quantity may be punctuated by sudden decreases; in such a case, we may say that the quantity increases generally, but definite conclusions are only possible when the metals under comparison are close to one another in the periodic table (and we need to be careful about unexpected jumps). Secondly, periodic trends are significantly affected by the identity of ligands and the oxidation state of the metal center, so comparisons need to be appropriately controlled. Using periodic trends to compare a Pd(II) complex and a Ru(III) complex is largely an exercise in futility, but comparing Pt(II) and Pd(II) complexes with similar ligand sets is reasonable. Keep these ideas in mind to avoid spinning your wheels unnecessarily! Alright, let’s dive in… Read the rest of this entry »
So far, we’ve seen how deconstruction can reveal useful “bookkeeping” properties of organometallic complexes: number of electrons donated by ligands, coordination number, oxidation state, and d electron count (to name a few). Now, let’s bring everything together and discuss total electron count, the sum of non-bonding and bonding electrons associated with the metal center. Like oxidation state, total electron count can reveal the likely reactivity of OM complexes—in fact, it is often more powerful than oxidation state for making predictions. We’ll see that there is a definite norm for total electron count, and when a complex deviates from that norm, reactions are likely to happen.
Let’s begin with yet another new complex. This molecule features the common and important cyclopentadienyl and carbon monoxide ligands, along with an X-type ethyl ligand.
The Cp or cyclopentadienyl ligand is a polydentate, six-electron L2X ligand. The two pi bonds of the free anion are dative, L-type ligands, which we’ll see again in a future post on ligands bound through pi bonds. Think of the electrons of the pi bond as the source of a dative bond to the metal. Since both electrons come from the ligand, the pi bonds are L-type binders. The anionic carbon in Cp is a fairly standard, anionic X-type binder. The carbon monoxide ligands are interesting examples of two-electron L-type ligands—notice that the free ligands are neutral, so these are considered L-type! Carbon monoxide is an intriguing ligand that can teach us a great deal about metal-ligand bonding in OM complexes…but more on that later. Read the rest of this entry »
Organometallic complexes, which consist of centrally located metals and peripheral organic compounds called ligands, are the workhorses of organometallic chemistry. Just like organic intermediates, understanding something about the structure of these molecules tells us a great deal about their expected reactivity. Some we would expect to be stable, and others definitely not! A big part of our early explorations will involve describing, systematically, the principles that govern the stability of organometallic complexes. From the outset, I will say that these principles are not set in stone and are best applied to well controlled comparisons. Nonetheless the principles are definitely worth talking about, because they form the foundation of everything else we’ll discuss. Let’s begin by exploring the general characteristics of organometallic complexes and identifying three key classes of organic ligands.
When we think of metals we usually think of electropositive atoms or even positively charged ions, and many of the metals of OM chemistry fit this mold. In general, it is useful to imagine organic ligands as electron donors and metals as electron acceptors. When looking at a pair of electrons shared between a transition metal and main-group atom (or hydrogen), I imagine the cationic metal center and anionic main-group atom racing toward one another from oblivion like star-crossed lovers. In the opposite direction (with an important caveat that we’ll address soon), we can imagine ripping apart metal–R covalent bonds and giving both electrons of the bond to the organic atom. This heterolytic bond cleavage method reproduces the starting charges on the metal and ligand. Unsurprisingly, the metal is positive and the ligand negative.
Welcome! The Organometallic Reader is devoted to the teaching and learning of organometallic chemistry. Quite simply, I believe that there is a better way to teach organometallic chemistry than the approach taken by the average American graduate school. Plus, you don’t need to be a chemistry whiz kid to learn organometallic chemistry! John Anthony said it best:
You don’t need to be a genius to do chemistry; you just need to be smarter than molecules.
In many respects, the molecules of organometallic chemistry are unlike any you encounter in general, organic, or inorganic chemistry. Still, they are definitely governed by general principles that come into greater focus with each passing day, and you can learn a lot about the other branches of chemistry by studying organometallics. Few fields cross so many of the traditional “divisions” of chemistry.
In the coming weeks, we’ll explore the general nature of organometallic chemistry as a whole and its signature molecules, organometallic complexes. We’ll get acquainted with periodic trends of the transition metals, that large but often forgotten chunk of elements stuck in the center of the periodic table. From there, we’ll round out organometallic structure with discussions of the different classes of ligands commonly found in OM complexes. We’ll then move into the elementary mechanistic steps of organometallic chemistry, and finally we’ll put them together as we discuss organometallic reactions. Get ready for a wild ride!