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Niobium & Tantalum: Inorganic & Coordination Chemistry

  1. Liliane G. Hubert-Pfalzgraf

Published Online: 15 MAR 2006

DOI: 10.1002/0470862106.ia153

Encyclopedia of Inorganic Chemistry

Encyclopedia of Inorganic Chemistry

How to Cite

Hubert-Pfalzgraf, L. G. 2006. Niobium & Tantalum: Inorganic & Coordination Chemistry. Encyclopedia of Inorganic Chemistry. .

Author Information

  1. Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1, Villeurbanne, France

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 MAR 2006


The chemistry of niobium and tantalum ranges from oxidation states +V to −III with no species of oxidation state −II known so far. The chemistry of those oxophilic metals is dominated by their highest oxidation states, V and IV. Pentahalides especially chlorides are the most usual starting material. They form numerous complexes especially with hard donors and are used for access not only to pentavalent metal alkoxides, amides, thiolates, and so on but also to most molecular species in lower oxidation states. Oxo species are formed quite easily by O-donor abstraction reactions or adventitious hydrolysis. Pentavalent alkoxides are active in various catalytic processes and are useful precursors for access to oxide ceramics such as ferroelectrics via the formation of heterometallic species. The most relevant results in organometallic chemistry of Nb and Ta have been obtained with ancillary, bulky aryloxide or siloxide ligands. Niobium is more prone to reduction than tantalum. Chalcogenides and chalcogenohalides are often one–dimensional solids and display a rich structural and synthetic chemistry. Numerous trispyrazolylborate derivatives of Nb and Ta have been reported for oxidation states V to I. The development of the nonaqueous chemistry of those elements in intermediate oxidation states has become an active and fruitful area. Species based on M[DOUBLE BOND]M or M[TRIPLE BOND]M multiple bonds, the latter especially for Nb, have been characterized. The Nb[BOND]Nb triple bond (2.20 Å) is much shorter than the M[BOND]M distance in the metal. Tri- or divalent species are able to promote C[BOND]E (E = O, S, N) cleavage and thus to generate novel ligands because of the trend of Nb and Ta to form multiple M[BOND]E bonds and attain their highest oxidation states. C[BOND]C coupling reactions are observed with unsaturated ligands (alkynes, nitriles, etc.). MIIIη2-alkyne complexes have a metallocyclopropene character; they can react with unsaturated organic molecules via stoichiometric reactions. The reservoir of electrons of the M[DOUBLE BOND]M bond is also of interest for activation of small molecules such as N2, H2, CO, and so on. Tri or tetradentate N,N; N,P; or N,O ligands have been used to stabilize dimeric dia or paramagnetic dinitrogen complexes. The bridging, highly activate N2 ligand is amenable to functionalization in some cases, and cleavage into nitrides has been observed. The chemistry of reduced Nb and Ta halides is rich in clusters with nonintegral oxidation states (between III and I). Hexanuclear clusters dominate the aqueous chemistry for these oxidation states. One of their potential applications could be their use as contrasting agents. The species in the lowest oxidation states are essentially based on carbonyl ligands.


  • niobium;
  • tantalum;
  • oxophilic;
  • multiple metal–metal bond;
  • complexes;
  • chalcogenides;
  • clusters;
  • alkoxides;
  • imides;
  • amides;
  • hydrides;
  • nitrogen activation