The Organometallic Reader

Dedicated to the teaching and learning of modern organometallic chemistry.

Posts Tagged ‘electronic factors

Reductive Elimination: General Ideas

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Reductive elimination is the microscopic reverse of oxidative addition. It is literally oxidative addition run in reverse—oxidative addition backwards in time! My favorite analogy for microscopic reversibility is the video game Braid, in which “resurrection is the microscopic reverse of death.” The player can reverse time to “undo” death; viewed from the forward direction, “undoing death” is better called “resurrection.” Chemically, reductive elimination and oxidative addition share the same reaction coordinate. The only difference between their reaction coordinate diagrams relates to what we call “reactants” and “products.” Thus, their mechanisms depend on one another, and trends in the speed and extent of oxidative additions correspond to opposite trends in reductive eliminations. In this post, we’ll address reductive elimination in a general sense, as we did for oxidative addition in a previous post.

A general reductive elimination. Notice that the oxidation state of the metal decreases by two units, and open coordination sites become available.

A general reductive elimination. The oxidation state of the metal decreases by two units, and open coordination sites become available.

During reductive elimination, the electrons in the M–X bond head toward ligand Y, and the electrons in M–Y head to the metal. The eliminating ligands are always X-type! On the whole, the oxidation state of the metal decreases by two units, two new open coordination sites become available, and an X–Y bond forms. What does the change in oxidation state suggest about changes in electron density at the metal? As suggested by the name “reductive,” the metal gains electrons. The ligands lose electrons as the new X–Y bond cannot possibly be polarized to both X and Y, as the original M–X and M–Y bonds were. Using these ideas, you may already be thinking about reactivity trends in reductive elimination…hold that thought. Read the rest of this entry »


Written by Michael Evans

October 19, 2012 at 7:48 am

Dissociative Ligand Substitution

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Associative substitution is unlikely for saturated, 18-electron complexes—coordination of another ligand would produce a 20-electron intermediate. For 18-electron complexes, dissociative substitution mechanisms involving 16-electron intermediates are more likely. In a slow step with positive entropy of activation, the departing ligand leaves, generating a coordinatively unsaturated intermediate. The incoming ligand then enters the coordination sphere of the metal to generate the product. For the remainder of this post, we’ll focus on the kinetics of the reaction and the nature of the unsaturated intermediate (which influences the stereochemistry of the reaction). The reverse of the first step, re-coordination of the departing ligand (rate constant k–1), is often competitive with dissociation.

A general scheme for dissociative ligand substitution.

A general scheme for dissociative ligand substitution. There’s more to the intermediate than meets the eye!

Reaction Kinetics

Let’s begin with the general situation in which k1 and k–1 are similar in magnitude. Since k1 is rate limiting, k2 is assumed to be much larger than k1 and k–1. Most importantly, we need to assume that variation in the concentration of the unsaturated intermediate is essentially zero. This is called the steady state approximation, and it allows us to set up an equation that relates reaction rate to observable concentrations Hold onto that for a second; first, we can use step 2 to establish a preliminary rate expression.

(1)     rate = k2[LnM–◊][Li]

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The trans/cis Effects & Influences

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The trans effect is an ancient but venerable observation. First noted by Chernyaev in 1926, the trans effect and its conceptual siblings (the trans influence, cis influence, and cis effect) are easy enough to comprehend. That is, it’s simple enough to know what they are. To understand why they are, on the other hand, is much more difficult. I call ideas like this—which, by the way, pop up often in organometallic chemistry—”icebergs.” Their definitions are simple and easy to see; their explanations can be complex.

Definitions & Examples

Let’s begin with definitions: what is the trans effect? There’s some confusion on this point, so we need to be careful. The trans effect proper, which is often called the kinetic trans effect, refers to the observation that certain ligands increase the rate of ligand substitution when positioned trans to the departing ligand. The key word in that last sentence is “rate”—the trans effect proper is a kinetic effect. The trans influence refers to the impact of a ligand on the length of the bond trans to it in the ground state of a complex. The key phrase there is “ground state”—this is a thermodynamic effect, so it’s sometimes called the thermodynamic trans effect. Adding to the insanity, cis effects and cis influences have also been observed. Evidently, ligands may also influence the kinetics or thermodynamics of their cis neighbors. All of these phenomena are independent of the metal center, but do depend profoundly on the geometry of the metal (more on that shortly).

Kinetic trans and cis effects are shown in the figure below. In both cases, we see that X1 exhibits a stronger effect than X2. The geometries shown are those for which each effect is most commonly observed. The metals and oxidation states shown are prototypical.

The kinetic trans and cis effects in action. X1 is the stronger (trans/cis)-effect ligand in these examples.

The kinetic trans and cis effects in action. X1 is the stronger (trans/cis)-effect ligand in these examples.

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Gee, I’m a Tree: Predicting the Geometry of Organometallic Complexes

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An important issue that we’ve glossed over until now concerns what organometallic complexes actually look like: what are their typical geometries? Can we use any of the “bookkeeping metrics” we’ve explored so far to reliably predict geometry? The answer to the latter questions is a refreshing but qualified “yes.” In this post, we’ll explore the possibilities for complex geometry and develop some general guidelines for predicting geometry. In the process we’ll enlist the aid of a powerful theoretical ally, crystal field theory (CFT). CFT provides some intuitive explanations for geometry the geometry of OM complexes. Here we go!

Because OM complexes feature a variety of coordination numbers, the possibilities for geometry are numerous. The common geometries of organic chemistry—linear, pyramidal, trigonal planar, and tetrahedral—are available to OM complexes too. Many complexes exhibit a second kind of four-coordinate geometry, square planar. Five-coordinate complexes may exhibit either square pyramidal or (my personal favorite) trigonal bipyramidal geometries. Six-coordinate complexes feature either octahedral geometry or the rare but intriguing trigonal prismatic arrangement. The figure below summarizes these possibilities (minus the two-coordinate geometries, which we won’t deal with).

Common geometries of organometallic complexes.

Common geometries of organometallic complexes.

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Written by Michael Evans

January 10, 2012 at 12:54 pm