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
    | Open Access

    Understanding the properties of water-splitting assemblies in dye-sensitized photoelectrochemical cells is a key challenge in artificial photosynthesis. Here, the authors report the importance of anchoring groups on a water oxidation catalyst in determining active species on metal oxide surfaces.

    • Yong Zhu
    • , Degao Wang
    • , Qing Huang
    • , Jian Du
    • , Licheng Sun
    • , Fei Li
    •  & Thomas J. Meyer
  • Research |

    Transient metallonitrenes (M–N) have been proposed as key intermediates in nitrogen atom transfer reactions, but well-defined examples have remained elusive. Now, a platinum complex with an atomic nitrogen ligand, best described as a subvalent nitrogen diradical singly bonded to a platinum(ii) ion (Pt–N), has been isolated and shows ambiphilic reactivity.

    • Jian Sun
    • , Josh Abbenseth
    • , Hendrik Verplancke
    • , Martin Diefenbach
    • , Bas de Bruin
    • , David Hunger
    • , Christian Würtele
    • , Joris van Slageren
    • , Max C. Holthausen
    •  & Sven Schneider
  • Reviews
    | Open Access

    Bis(arylimino)acenaphthene ligands were recognized as robust scaffolds for metal complexes decades ago, but their redox non-innocence as well as their potential to mediate electro- or photo-catalysis remain subjects of active research. Here, the authors review the synthesis and properties of these poly-aromatic diimine ligands complexed to nominally redox-innocent p-block elements.

    • Jingyi Wang
    • , Han Sen Soo
    •  & Felipe Garcia
  • Research |

    The reduction of N2 to NH3 is mediated in living systems by the enzyme nitrogenase and in the chemical industry by the Haber–Bosch process; both systems rely on iron-based catalysis. Now, a molecular tri(iron)bis(nitrido) complex, prepared by reduction of a bis(iron)bis(iodo) precursor under an N2 atmosphere, has been isolated and shown to promote the formation of NH3 from H2.

    • Matthias Reiners
    • , Dirk Baabe
    • , Katharina Münster
    • , Marc-Kevin Zaretzke
    • , Matthias Freytag
    • , Peter G. Jones
    • , Yannick Coppel
    • , Sébastien Bontemps
    • , Iker del Rosal
    • , Laurent Maron
    •  & Marc D. Walter
    Nature Chemistry 12, 740-746
  • Research |

    Metallacycles formed from two large, under-coordinated actinide MIV cations and two rigid arene-bridged aryloxide ligands are capable of binding dinitrogen inside their cavity. These f-block complexes can catalyse the reduction and functionalization of dinitrogen as well as the catalytic conversion of molecular dinitrogen to a secondary silylamine.

    • Polly L. Arnold
    • , Tatsumi Ochiai
    • , Francis Y. T. Lam
    • , Rory P. Kelly
    • , Megan L. Seymour
    •  & Laurent Maron
    Nature Chemistry 12, 654-659
  • Research
    | Open Access

    Electron spin is a fundamental property of molecules, and changes in spin state affect both molecular structure and dynamics. Here, the authors resolve, by ultrafast electron diffraction, the nuclear reorganization stabilizing spin transitions in a [FeII(bpy)3](PF6)2 crystal.

    • Yifeng Jiang
    • , Lai Chung Liu
    • , Antoine Sarracini
    • , Kamil M. Krawczyk
    • , Jordan S. Wentzell
    • , Cheng Lu
    • , Ryan L. Field
    • , Samir F. Matar
    • , Wojciech Gawelda
    • , Henrike M. Müller-Werkmeister
    •  & R. J. Dwayne Miller

News and Comment

  • News and Views |

    White phosphorus is a prominent source of P atoms but has remained difficult to activate without using transition metals. Now, a bidentate ligand based on silicon(ii) donors has successfully stabilized a P2 moiety, and the resulting complex acts as a transfer reagent for P anions.

    • David Scheschkewitz
    Nature Chemistry 12, 785-787
  • News and Views |

    Mathematically modelling metal–ligand bonding in late transition-metal complexes has been an important tool in catalyst development — although lacking for early transition metals such as Cr and Ti. Now, a simple method for measuring ligand donor properties promises to elevate high-valent early transition metal catalysis to the same level.

    • Ian A. Tonks
    Nature Chemistry 9, 834-836
  • News and Views |

    A general approach for decorating nanoparticles with a highly dense shell of DNA linkers expands the range of building blocks that can be used for DNA-mediated nanoparticle self-assembly.

    • Ulrich Simon
    Nature Materials 12, 694-696