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Inorg Chem. 2011 Oct 17;50(20):9741-51. doi: 10.1021/ic2011748. Epub 2011 Sep 13.

Noninnocence in metal complexes: a dithiolene dawn.

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Department of Chemistry, University of Rochester, Rochester, New York 14627, USA.


Noninnocence in inorganic chemistry traces its roots back half a century to work that was done on metal complexes containing unsaturated dithiolate ligands. In a flurry of activity in the early 1960s by three different research groups, homoleptic bis and tris complexes of these ligands, which came to be known as dithiolenes, were synthesized, and their structural, electrochemical, spectroscopic, and magnetic properties were investigated. The complexes were notable for facile one-electron transfers and intense colors in solution, and conventional oxidation-state descriptions could not account for their electronic structures. The bis complexes were, in general, found to be square-planar, including the first examples of this geometry for paramagnetic complexes and different formal d(n) configurations. Several of the neutral and monoanionic tris complexes were found to have trigonal-prismatic coordination, the first time that this geometry had been observed in molecular metal complexes. Electronic structural calculations employing extended Hückel and other semiempirical computational methods revealed extensive ligand-metal mixing in the frontier orbitals of these systems, including the observation of structures in which filled metal-based orbitals were more stable than ligand-based orbitals of the same type, suggesting that the one-electron changes upon oxidation or reduction were occurring on the ligand rather than on the metal center. A summary of this early work is followed with a brief section on the current interpretations of these systems based on more advanced spectroscopic and computational methods. The take home message is that the early work did indeed provide a solid foundation for what was to follow in investigations of metal complexes containing redox-active ligands.


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