A ligand is an ion or small molecule that binds to a metal atom (in chemistry) or to a biomolecule (in biochemistry) to form a complex, such as the iron-cyanide coordination complex Prussian blue, or the iron-containing blood-protein haemoglobin.

Latest Research and Reviews

  • Research |

    Although neutral and anionic low-valent aluminium complexes are widespread, their cationic counterparts have remained rare. Now, a salt of [Al(AlCp*)3]+ featuring a formal low-valent Al+ cation has been isolated that dimerizes in concentrated solutions and the solid state, and also forms Al4 clusters on coordinating with Lewis bases.

    • Philipp Dabringhaus
    • , Julie Willrett
    •  & Ingo Krossing
    Nature Chemistry 14, 1151-1157
  • Research |

    Interlocking between non-trivial molecular knots provides a route to topologically complex mechanically interlocked molecules. Now, a topologically chiral prime link with 14 crossings is synthesized in a stereoselective manner through the quadruple interlocking of two homochiral trefoil knots.

    • Zheng Cui
    •  & Guo-Xin Jin
    Nature Synthesis 1, 635-640
  • Research |

    Precursors for the release of phosphorus mononitride in solution under mild conditions have remained elusive. Now, an explosive anthracene-stabilized azidophosphine has shown PN transfer reactivity in the synthesis of an Fe–NP complex. The PN ligand is N-bonded, as the Fe–N interaction shows significant covalent character and a less unfavourable Pauli repulsion than its Fe–P counterpart.

    • André K. Eckhardt
    • , Martin-Louis Y. Riu
    •  & Christopher C. Cummins
    Nature Chemistry 14, 928-934
  • Research |

    Catalytic transformations of methane frequently involve the formation of a metal–methane complex, but these compounds are challenging to observe. Now, a relatively long-lived osmium–methane complex has been characterized using NMR spectroscopy and forms from the direct binding of methane to a photolytically generated, coordinatively unsaturated cationic osmium–carbonyl complex dissolved in an inert hydrofluorocarbon solvent at –90 °C.

    • James. D. Watson
    • , Leslie. D. Field
    •  & Graham. E. Ball
    Nature Chemistry 14, 801-804
  • Research
    | Open Access

    Copper hydrides have been studied for their exciting structural chemistry and applications in hydrogenation catalysis. Here, the authors uncover the role of the amidinate ligand in yielding two closely related copper hydride clusters with quite different catalytic hydrogenation activity.

    • Chun-Yu Liu
    • , Shang-Fu Yuan
    •  & Quan-Ming Wang
  • Research |

    Ion pairing is ubiquitous in low-dielectric-constant solvents, but whether it influences the reactivity of common cationic photoredox catalysts has been unclear. However, it has now been shown that ion pairing is responsible for a 4-fold modulation in reactivity in a prototypical Ir(III) complex and is explained by excited-state ion-pair reorganization.

    • J. D. Earley
    • , A. Zieleniewska
    •  & G. Rumbles
    Nature Chemistry 14, 746-753

News and Comment

  • Research Highlights |

    An article in the Journal of the American Chemical Society reports azobenzene crystals that roll continuously under visible light, thanks to crystal packing effects that shift azobenzene’s light-responsive window.

    • Ariane Vartanian
  • Comments & Opinion |

    Lukas Veth and Paweł Dydio discuss the importance of ligands in transition metal catalysis, looking at the success story of xantphos and why it should earn the title of ‘privileged ligand’.

    • Lukas Veth
    •  & Paweł Dydio
    Nature Chemistry 14, 1088
  • News & Views |

    By combining the link of a catenane with the interweaving of a trefoil knot, a molecular structure with a double knot-link containing 14 crossings is prepared. The knot-link contains two homochiral trefoil knots that are quadruply linked with each other.

    • Edward E. Fenlon
    Nature Synthesis 1, 586-587
  • News & Views |

    Electron spin relaxation, important in quantum information science, can be slowed down at clock transitions — which are insensitive to magnetic noise. It has now been shown that such transitions can be tuned, to high frequency, in rare-earth coordination complexes through control of s- and d-orbital mixing.

    • Eric J. L. McInnes
    Nature Chemistry 14, 361-362
  • News & Views |

    Dinitrogen conversion to ammonia is of great biological and industrial relevance, but modelling this process on a molecular level is challenging. Now, a biomimetic model offers new insights into the functionalization of a nitrido ligand to form NH3 using either H2 or H+/e.

    • Marc D. Walter
    Nature Chemistry 14, 12-13