Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


A rare partnership pays off

The first chemical complex consisting of rare earth metals and boron atoms produces unexpected results heralding new synthetic chemistry techniques

Boron is an intriguing member of the periodic table because it readily forms stable compounds using only six electrons—two fewer than most other main-group elements.

This means that chemists can easily add boron to unsaturated hydrocarbons, and then use electron-rich atoms, such as oxygen, to change organoborons into versatile units such as alcohols and esters. Recently, researchers found that combining transition metals with boron ligands produces catalysts powerful enough to transform even fully saturated hydrocarbons into new organic functionalities with high selectivity.

Now, Zhaomin Hou and colleagues from the RIKEN Advanced Science Institute in Wako have made another breakthrough in this field: they have created the first-ever complexes between boron ligands and rare earth metals. Because these novel chemical combinations display a surprising ability to incorporate molecules such as carbon monoxide into their frameworks, they have potential applications that range from synthesizing organic substrates to controlling noxious emissions.

Rare earth metals are hot commodities because they are vital for products in high demand such as smartphones and electric cars. However, full chemical studies of these elements are only in their infancy since they are difficult to handle under normal conditions.

According to Hou, typical methods to prepare transition metal–boron complexes—halogen or metal exchange reactions, for example—seemed unsuitable for rare earth metals. Instead, the team used a vigorous lithium–boron compound to handle the reactive rare earth precursors, producing previously unseen scandium–(Sc–B) and gadolinium–boron (Gd–B) complexes in good yields, but not without difficulty. “Rare earth–boron compounds are air- and moisture-sensitive and sometimes thermally unstable,” says Hou. “They therefore require great care in isolation and handling.”

To determine whether or not the Sc–B complex could act as a nucleophile—an important electron-donating reagent in organic chemistry—the team reacted it with N,N,-diisopropylcarbodiimide, a molecule that easily accepts electrons to change into an amidinate salt. X-ray analysis revealed that initially, the carbodiimide became incorporated between Sc and carbon ligands on the rare earth metal, but extra quantities of the reagent became incorporated between the Sc–B bond. Furthermore, adding carbon monoxide to this mixture also caused a rare earth–boron insertion, accompanied by an unexpected rearrangement into a cyclic structure.

Because chemists rely on insertion reactions to efficiently transform ligands into a diverse range of products, these findings should enable development of brand new synthetic techniques—opportunities that Hou and his team are actively pursuing.

The corresponding author for this highlight is based at the Organometallic Chemistry Laboratory, RIKEN Advanced Science Institute

Li, S., Cheng, J., Chen, Y., Nishiura, M. & Hou, Z. Rare earth metal boryl complexes: Synthesis, structure, and insertion chemistry. Angewandte Chemie International Edition 50, 6360–6363 (2011).

gro-pr | Research asia research news
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht ‘Farming’ bacteria to boost growth in the oceans
24.10.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für marine Mikrobiologie

nachricht Calcium Induces Chronic Lung Infections
24.10.2016 | Universität Basel

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Oasis of life in the ice-covered central Arctic

24.10.2016 | Earth Sciences

‘Farming’ bacteria to boost growth in the oceans

24.10.2016 | Life Sciences

Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

24.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

More VideoLinks >>>