CHEM3101: Advanced Topics in Inorganic Chemistry

Course Organizer: Dr J K Cockcroft

Lecturers: Prof. C. J. Carmalt, Dr A. M. Beale, Prof J. A. Darr, and Dr J. K. Cockcroft

Normal prerequisite: CHEM2102

Units: 1/2

Moodle page:


To introduce and discuss four important and diverse areas of inorganic chemistry. To lay the theoretical and practical foundations for advanced courses in some of these areas taken later. To encourage students to investigate these topics by reading beyond the lecture material.


Students should be able to:-

  • Relate and discuss the differences between the chemistries of the lanthanides and actinides. Account for the differences between these chemistries and those of the d-block elements
  • Give an account of modern materials processing and the chemistry that underpins it
  • Deduce synthetic routes to organometallic compounds. Account for reactivities in tems of kinetic and thermodynamic factors. Describe some applications of organometallic compounds
  • Understand the origins of the spectral features (bands) arising in both electronic and vibrational spectra and appreciate the nature of the information available in such spectra  

Course Structure

  • Lectures: 32
  • Tutorials: 0
  • Labs: 0


  • Exam: 80% (2.5 hours)
  • Lab: 0%
  • Coursework: 20%

Recommended Texts

  • The f Elements, N Kaltsoyannis and P Scott, Oxford Chemistry Primer
  • Lanthanides & Actinides, S Cotton, Macmillan Education Ltd
  • Nanochemistry: A Chemical Approach to Nanomaterials by Geoffrey A. Ozin and Andre C. Arsenault
  • Inorganic Chemistry, J E Huheey, E A Keiter and R L Heiter, 4th Ed, Harper Collins (mainly Ch. 11)
  • Organometallics - a concise introduction, C Elschenbroich and A Salzer, VCH
  • Inorganic Chemistry, Shriver & Atkins 5th Ed, Oxford University Press

Course Outline

1. Organometallic Chemistry, CJC, 8 lectures

  • Classification
  • Electron Counting
  • Ligand Types
  • Structure and bonding in organometallics containing simple ligands
  • Fluxionality
  • Oxidative addition and reductive elimination
  • Insertion of alkenes into M-H bonds

2. Advanced Inorganic Spectroscopy, AMB, 8 lectures

  • Interaction of electromagnetic radiation with matter
  • Electronic spectra of transition metal containing molecules and compounds 
  • Crystal-field and Ligand-field theory
  • Microstates and spin-orbit coupling
  • Charge-transfer (electronic transitions and non-radiative conversion)
  • Vibrational spectroscopy; origins and applications

3. Advanced Inorganic Materials Chemistry Processes and Applications, JAD, 8 lectures

  • Appreciation of the chemistry behind the processes for the formation of inorganic materials for technological applications;
  • Chemistry behind property control in such materials;
  • Processing in terms of either predominately solid, liquid or gas phase reactions;
  • Science of molecular precursors design;
  • Particle formation and growth mechanisms;
  • Environmental impact plus pros and cons of the various techniques;
  • Case studies:

    • Topical examples faced by current commercial materials developer

4. Lanthanides and Actinides, JKC, 8 lectures

  • Definition of the f elements; position in the periodic table;
  • Properties of the atoms and ions: ionisation energies, electrode potentials, metallic and ionic radii;
  • Colour and electronic spectroscopy;
  • Magnetism;
  • Solid state compounds: halides and oxides;
  • Coordination chemistry of the lanthanides and actinides;
  • Organometallic compounds; comparison with the d block;
  • Commercial applications;
  • Radioactivity: units and safety, uses and abuses.