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 Ion treatments for cardiac arrhythmia — Non-invasive alternative to catheter-based surgery
20.01.2017 | GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung GmbH

nachricht Seeking structure with metagenome sequences
20.01.2017 | DOE/Joint Genome Institute

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Helmholtz International Fellow Award for Sarah Amalia Teichmann

20.01.2017 | Awards Funding

An innovative high-performance material: biofibers made from green lacewing silk

20.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Ion treatments for cardiac arrhythmia — Non-invasive alternative to catheter-based surgery

20.01.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>