Standard Article

Low Oxidation State Main Group

  1. Charles L. B. Macdonald,
  2. Bobby D. Ellis

Published Online: 15 MAR 2006

DOI: 10.1002/0470862106.ia297

Encyclopedia of Inorganic Chemistry

Encyclopedia of Inorganic Chemistry

How to Cite

Macdonald, C. L. B. and Ellis, B. D. 2006. Low Oxidation State Main Group. Encyclopedia of Inorganic Chemistry. .

Author Information

  1. University of Windsor, Windsor, ON, Canada

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 MAR 2006


The synthesis and chemistry of compounds containing groups 13–15 elements in unusually low oxidation states is presented. In general, the oxidation state of an element influences the reactivity of the compounds in which the atom is found. For the main group elements, compounds containing elements in lower than usual oxidation states exhibit significantly different structural features, modes of bonding, and chemistry than is observed for compounds containing the element in a more typical oxidation state. The elements of the s-block do not form low oxidation state compounds and the elements of groups 16–18 are generally found in the lowest available oxidation state. Thus, this article provides an overview of the following classes of low-valent main group species: the chemistry of group 13 elements in the +1 and +2 oxidation states, the chemistry of group 14 elements in the 0 oxidation state, and the chemistry of the group 15 elements in oxidation states lower than +3. Numerous exemplary modes of reactivity are presented and the utility of some low oxidation state compounds as catalysts or precursors to materials is acknowledged.


  • oxidation state;
  • low valent;
  • p-block;
  • main group;
  • group 13;
  • group 14;
  • group 15;
  • low coordinate;
  • cluster compounds;
  • subvalent