Standard Article

N-Heterocyclic Carbene-Containing Metal Complexes

  1. Serena Fantasia,
  2. Hervé Clavier,
  3. Steven P. Nolan

Published Online: 15 DEC 2011

DOI: 10.1002/9781119951438.eibc0360

Encyclopedia of Inorganic and Bioinorganic Chemistry

Encyclopedia of Inorganic and Bioinorganic Chemistry

How to Cite

Fantasia, S., Clavier, H. and Nolan, S. P. 2011. N-Heterocyclic Carbene-Containing Metal Complexes. Encyclopedia of Inorganic and Bioinorganic Chemistry. .

Author Information

  1. Institute of Chemical Research of Catalonia (ICIQ), Tarragona, Spain

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 DEC 2011


In the last decade, coordination chemistry has witnessed the advent of a new class of ligands: the N-heterocyclic carbenes (NHCs). The “success story” associated with this ligand family can be explained by the unique stereoelectronic properties of the NHCs; these unique properties have led to their numerous applications in catalysis. This article provides an overview of developments and recent advances in the syntheses of NHCs and NHC[BOND]transition metal complexes. For these NHC ligand-containing complexes, an analysis focuses on stability and reactivity patterns is provided. Reactions such as the cleavage of NHC[BOND]metal bond, C[BOND]H and C[BOND]C activations, NHC migration, and NHC insertion are presented.


  • complex synthesis;
  • cyclometallation;
  • insertion reaction;
  • N-heterocyclic carbene;
  • reactivity;
  • transition metal;
  • stability