The world of chemistry has a new first: in the journal Nature Chemistry, a research group at the University of Würzburg has presented the first soluble and stable molecules containing an s-block atom in its elemental state. Normally these elements are highly reactive.
It is one of the more memorable experiments of high school chemistry lessons: when elemental sodium comes into contact with water it burns and explodes. Sodium simply isn't happy in its elemental form, making it highly reactive. This is more or less true for all of the other elements from the so-called "s-block" of the periodic table, to which sodium belongs.
A chemistry research group at the Julius-Maximilians-Universität (JMU) of Würzburg in Bavaria, Germany, has now, for the first time, tamed one of these "wild" s-block metals. The researchers constructed molecules that incorporate one atom of the alkaline earth metal beryllium in its elemental state. That the molecules do not immediately decompose at room temperature is thanks to stabilization by two cyclic ligands.
The breakthrough from the research team of Professor Holger Braunschweig is presented in the top-tier journal Nature Chemistry, thanks to the unexpectedly high stability of the molecules. These results from the JMU chemistry laboratories are expected to open a new era for the chemistry of the elements of this corner of the periodic table.
Promising candidates for challenging reactions
The incorporation of hydrogen and carbon monoxide into organic molecules is an example of one of the challenging chemical reactions carried out on huge scales in industry. Currently, these reactions are exclusively carried out with help from expensive heavy metals such as rhodium, palladium and platinum. For reasons of sustainability and cost, replacing these expensive catalysts with alternatives from the main group elements of the periodic table – many of which are abundant in the Earth's crust – would be a huge step forward.
This often means accessing the elemental states of these atoms in molecular systems. However, this is by no means trivial, as many of the potential candidate atoms ¬– sodium being an extreme example – are highly reactive in their elemental states. Recent success has been made with p-block elements such as silicon, tin and boron, while this new work is the first ever example with an s-block metal, beryllium.
Developing alternatives to toxic beryllium
"The only drawback of beryllium is its toxicity", states Dr. Merle Arrowsmith, Alexander von Humboldt postdoctoral fellow in the group of Holger Braunschweig. Even more interesting would be to extend this chemistry to magnesium or calcium, elements that are both abundant and biocompatible, making them ideal as potential catalysts for important chemical reactions.
Given their success in incorporating elementary beryllium into a stable molecule, the chances are good that this could also work with other s-block metals. "Our discovery is a first step in capturing other s-block metal atoms in their elemental state, which we hope will promote reactions that usually only proceed with expensive heavy metals," says Ph.D. student Julia Schuster, who synthesised the new molecules. The research group is currently developing similar methods for other s-block metals.
„Neutral zero-valent s-block complexes with strong multiple bonding“, Merle Arrowsmith, Holger Braunschweig, Mehmet Ali Celik, Theresa Dellermann, Rian D. Dewhurst, William C. Ewing, Kai Hammond, Thomas Kramer, Ivo Krummenacher, Jan Mies, Krzysztof Radacki, Julia K. Schuster. Nature Chemistry, DOI 10.1038/nchem.2542, Advance Online Publication 2016, June 6th
Prof. Dr. Holger Braunschweig, Institut für Anorganische Chemie, JMU, T (0931) 31-85260, email@example.com
http://www-anorganik.chemie.uni-wuerzburg.de/en/institute_of_inorganic_chemistry... Website of the Institute for Inorganic Chemistry
Robert Emmerich | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg
Molecular evolution: How the building blocks of life may form in space
26.04.2018 | American Institute of Physics
Multifunctional bacterial microswimmer able to deliver cargo and destroy itself
26.04.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Intelligente Systeme
Magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, is a widely used medical tool for taking pictures of the insides of our body. One way to make MRI scans easier to read is...
At the Hannover Messe 2018, the Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und-prüfung (BAM) will show how, in the future, astronauts could produce their own tools or spare parts in zero gravity using 3D printing. This will reduce, weight and transport costs for space missions. Visitors can experience the innovative additive manufacturing process live at the fair.
Powder-based additive manufacturing in zero gravity is the name of the project in which a component is produced by applying metallic powder layers and then...
Physicists at the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics, which is jointly run by Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, have developed a high-power laser system that generates ultrashort pulses of light covering a large share of the mid-infrared spectrum. The researchers envisage a wide range of applications for the technology – in the early diagnosis of cancer, for instance.
Molecules are the building blocks of life. Like all other organisms, we are made of them. They control our biorhythm, and they can also reflect our state of...
University of Connecticut researchers have created a biodegradable composite made of silk fibers that can be used to repair broken load-bearing bones without the complications sometimes presented by other materials.
Repairing major load-bearing bones such as those in the leg can be a long and uncomfortable process.
Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.
Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...
13.04.2018 | Event News
12.04.2018 | Event News
09.04.2018 | Event News
26.04.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering
26.04.2018 | Life Sciences
26.04.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering