Ligands as “Compass Needles”: How Orientations of Alkene, Alkyne, and Alkylidene Ligands Reveal π-Bonding Features in Tetrahedral Transition Metal Complexes

Authors

  • Prof. Vernon C. Gibson

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    1. Department of Chemistry, University Science Laboratories, South Road, Durham DH1 3LE (UK), Telefax: Int. code + (91)386-1127
    • Department of Chemistry, University Science Laboratories, South Road, Durham DH1 3LE (UK), Telefax: Int. code + (91)386-1127
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Abstract

This article outlines the strikingly simple structural pattern to which transition metal complexes containing π-bonding ligands conform, and suggests simple rules (and ligand classifications) by which the pattern can be understood, and by which individual structures can be rationalized or predicted. Alkenes, alkynes, and alkylidene ligands adopt distinct orientations with respect to other ligands attached to a transition metal because of competition between the various ligand types for metal-ligand π bonds, whatever the coordination geometry. However, a particularly interesting feature of the tetrahedral geometry is that “single-faced” π ligands can function as “sensors” of relative ligand π-donor capacities for all other groups attached to the metal. Here, using simple “triad representations” of tetrahedral complexes, a simple qualitative analysis is presented that builds on calculations by Hoffmann et al. and which allows preferred ligand orientations and relative ligand π-bond strengths to be deduced for a wide variety of these transition metal complexes.

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