Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Soluble Elements from a New Corner of the Periodic Table

07.06.2016

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.


Beryllium in the center, flanked by two stabilizing cyclic ligands: another "world premiere" from Würzburg chemistry.

(Graphic: Julia Schuster)

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

Contact

Prof. Dr. Holger Braunschweig, Institut für Anorganische Chemie, JMU, T (0931) 31-85260, h.braunschweig@uni-wuerzburg.de

Weitere Informationen:

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

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Water forms 'spine of hydration' around DNA, group finds
26.05.2017 | Cornell University

nachricht How herpesviruses win the footrace against the immune system
26.05.2017 | Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Can the immune system be boosted against Staphylococcus aureus by delivery of messenger RNA?

Staphylococcus aureus is a feared pathogen (MRSA, multi-resistant S. aureus) due to frequent resistances against many antibiotics, especially in hospital infections. Researchers at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut have identified immunological processes that prevent a successful immune response directed against the pathogenic agent. The delivery of bacterial proteins with RNA adjuvant or messenger RNA (mRNA) into immune cells allows the re-direction of the immune response towards an active defense against S. aureus. This could be of significant importance for the development of an effective vaccine. PLOS Pathogens has published these research results online on 25 May 2017.

Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is a bacterium that colonizes by far more than half of the skin and the mucosa of adults, usually without causing infections....

Im Focus: A quantum walk of photons

Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.

The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....

Im Focus: Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.

We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

Im Focus: World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world

Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics

An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

AWK Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium 2017: Internet of Production for Agile Enterprises

23.05.2017 | Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

How herpesviruses win the footrace against the immune system

26.05.2017 | Life Sciences

Water forms 'spine of hydration' around DNA, group finds

26.05.2017 | Life Sciences

First Juno science results supported by University of Leicester's Jupiter 'forecast'

26.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>