CHEM3101: Advanced Topics in Inorganic Chemistry

Course Organizer: Dr J K Cockcroft

Lecturers: Prof. C. J. Carmalt, Dr R Binions, Dr 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 that 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

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

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. Main Group Chemistry, RB, 8 lectures

  • Thermodynamics and kinetics of the methyl-metal bond;
  • Synthetic methods;
  • Lithium alkyl compounds - the tendency for aggregation;
  • Grignard reagents in the solid and solution phases;
  • Organoaluminium compounds;
  • Electron precise alkyl - trends in properties down Gp 14;
  • Transition metal methyl compounds - synthesis, stability and lability;
  • Introducing the carbene and carbyne ligands.

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.