Ethylene has long been known to react with transition metals such as iron or copper, but was not thought to react reversibly with metals such as tin or aluminum, said Philip Power, professor of chemistry at UC Davis and senior author on the paper.
"Reversibility is important, because it shows that it could be involved in catalytic processes," Power said.
Catalysts are materials that allow chemical reactions to proceed more efficiently, often by forming a temporary intermediate structure. Catalytic processes are important both in living cells and in industrial chemistry.
Graduate student Yang Peng passed ethylene, at room temperature and normal atmospheric pressure, through a compound made up of two tin atoms bonded to each other and also to rings of carbon atoms. The green tin compound turned yellow in the presence of ethylene, and a new compound could be crystallized out.
Slight heating of the mixture reversed the reaction and released ethylene again.
Power said the result was unexpected, but noted, "you investigate the reactions, and sometimes you find something interesting."
"It's serendipity, but you have to be looking and willing to follow it up," he said.
Power did not foresee an immediate application for the discovery, but said that it would contribute in general to understanding ethylene catalysis. Some plants release ethylene to control fruit ripening, although no known biological molecules include a tin atom. There could be implications for industrial catalysis if similar behavior could be shown for a cheap metal like aluminum, he said.
Also contributing to the work were postdoctoral scientists Xinping Wang and Bobby Ellis, and X-ray crystallographer James Fettinger. The work was funded by the National Science Foundation.
Andy Fell | EurekAlert!
Multi-institutional collaboration uncovers how molecular machines assemble
02.12.2016 | Salk Institute
Fertilized egg cells trigger and monitor loss of sperm’s epigenetic memory
02.12.2016 | IMBA - Institut für Molekulare Biotechnologie der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften GmbH
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water
In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...
The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering
02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science
02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy