WEB TEXT: Metals With Mettle

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Science  27 Jan 2006:
Vol. 311, Issue 5760, pp. 445
DOI: 10.1126/science.311.5760.445b

“Organometallic” sounds like a description of the Terminator, but to chemists it denotes molecules that contain metal-carbon bonds—such as tetraethyl lead, the antiknock compound once used in gasoline. Undergraduates and others who need a refresher can consult the Organometallic HyperTextBook by Rob Toreki, a former chemistry professor at the University of Kentucky who now runs Internet start-ups. Some 40 chapters plumb the structure of these molecules and reactions such as olef in metathesis, a means of rear ranging carbon double bonds using organometallic catalysts that earned last year's Nobel Prize in chemistry. Because organometallics often serve as catalysts, the site explains how a molecule's structure shapes the products. In a tricyclohexylphosphine complex, for instance, an organic cap partially obstructs one end of the metal (large purple ball), which restricts its reacting with other molecules.


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