PerspectiveChemistry

Uncovering the Uranium-Nitrogen Triple Bond

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Science  10 Aug 2012:
Vol. 337, Issue 6095, pp. 652-653
DOI: 10.1126/science.1225351

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Summary

Transition metal complexes containing multiple bonds to a carbon, nitrogen, or oxygen ligand (L) play a critical role in a wide range of important chemical and biological transformations (1). The chemistry of the actinide element uranium (U) has certain similarities to that of molybdenum and tungsten, and inorganic chemists have sought to expand uranium's multiple-bond chemistry beyond that of the uranyl functional group, UO22+, for some time. One of the more elusive targets has been a uranium compound with a terminal or “naked” U≡N group—a nitrido ligand in which the N atom has no bridging interactions. Several research groups (27) have tried to isolate such a molecule but were thwarted by the high nucleophilicity and associated reactivity of the terminal U≡N moiety. On page 717 of this issue, King et al. (8) report having isolated and thoroughly characterized a high-valent UV complex with a terminal nitride ligand using an elegant synthetic strategy.