The Carbonyls


IN his recent Liversidge Lecture1, Prof. Sidgwick has referred to the carbonyls as a “very peculiar group”, but I would suggest that this is another problem which may well be approached through the medium of organic chemistry2. Thus we find that the capacity of a singly bound carbon atom for triple union with another atom does not extend beyond carbon and nitrogen to oxygen. Moreover, when carbon monoxide accordingly yields the two new bonds are formed, in one case by acceptance, and in the other by a donation, of electrons on the part of the carbon atom. It must then be regarded as significant that those metals or ions which are actually able to participate in carbonyl formation are also usually, by reason of an incomplete inner electronic shell, equipped to fulfil this double function, and that in nickel carbonyl the nickel–carbon bonds are found to have a large amount of double bond character3. Further, it is presumably the result of the donor function of the central atom “that in nearly all the carbonyl compounds the effective atomic number of the central atom adds up to that of an inert gas”4.

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  1. 1

    J. Chem. Soc., 438 (1941).

  2. 2

    Kenner, NATURE, 147, 482 (1941).

  3. 3

    Brockway and Cross, J. Chem. Phys., 3, 828 (1935).

  4. 4

    Sidgwick, loc. cit.; Sidgwick and Bailey, Proc. Roy. Soc., A, 144, 521 (1934).

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KENNER, J. The Carbonyls. Nature 148, 345 (1941) doi:10.1038/148345a0

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