Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Snapshots of chemical reactions: Characterizing an important reactive intermediate


An international group of researchers led by Dr. Warren E. Piers (University of Calgary) and Dr. Heikki M. Tuononen (University of Jyväskylä) has been able to isolate and characterize an important chemical intermediate whose existence has, so far, only been inferred from indirect experimental evidence.

Chemical reactions rarely go from starting materials to final products in one single step, but instead they progress through a number of intermediates. In many cases the intermediates are not stable enough to be studied by conventional characterization methods, which thwarts efforts to understand reaction mechanisms.

Formation of the reactive borane-silane adduct at -80 Celsius is indicated by a color change.

Credit: © Adrian Houghton. Artistic impression of the adduct © Akseli Mansikkamäki

In the present case, the research group of Dr. Piers was able to undertake a comprehensive solution and solid-state characterization of an adduct between a Lewis acidic perfluoroarylborane and an electron-rich silane that has been postulated to be an intermediate in the 'frustrated' Lewis-pair hydrosilylation of C=C, C=O and C=N double bonds.

"The results of this paper are important because we now know more about the mechanistic details of a significant chemical reaction," says Dr. Piers, a Tier I Canada Research Chair at the University of Calgary. "It is like travelling along the trans-Canada highway from Victoria to St. John's always blindfolded and finally being able to see the Rockies along the way: a breathtaking moment," he explains.

However, characterizing an important reaction intermediate is only half of the story. Equally important is to understand what factors contribute to its stability and by how much. Here the research group of Academy Research Fellow Dr. Tuononen comes into play with the tools of theoretical modelling.

"Computational work showed that this is a good example of the Goldilocks effect in chemistry: everything needs to be 'just right'," tells Dr. Tuononen. "The calculations not only pinpoint the important contributors to the stability but also enable us to use this information to design similar adducts that are even more stable. This way we can study them experimentally in greater detail for further insight into the underlying chemistry."


"Direct observation of a borane–silane complex involved in frustrated Lewis-pair-mediated hydrosilylations" by Adrian Y. Houghton, Juha Hurmalainen, Akseli Mansikkamäki, Warren E. Piers and Heikki M. Tuononen was published online in Nature Chemistry on September 28th, 2014.

Picture: Formation of the reactive borane-silane adduct at -80Celcius is indicated by a color change © Adrian Houghton. Artistic impression of the adduct © Akseli Mansikkamäki

Funding for the work was provided by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (W.E.P.) and the Academy of Finland (H.M.T.).

More information:

Heikki M. Tuononen, tel. +358-40-805-3713, Warren E. Piers, tel. +1-403-220-5746,

Dr. Heikki M. Tuononen | Eurek Alert!

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Gene therapy shows promise for treating Niemann-Pick disease type C1
27.10.2016 | NIH/National Human Genome Research Institute

nachricht 'Neighbor maps' reveal the genome's 3-D shape
27.10.2016 | International School of Advanced Studies (SISSA)

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

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...

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

'Neighbor maps' reveal the genome's 3-D shape

27.10.2016 | Life Sciences

Gene therapy shows promise for treating Niemann-Pick disease type C1

27.10.2016 | Life Sciences

Solid progress in carbon capture

27.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

More VideoLinks >>>