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 |

    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
  • 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
  • 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

News and Comment

  • 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
  • News & Views |

    The early 1980s witnessed the report of a molecular ruthenium complex active for dehydrogenation of alcohols and hydrogenation of carbonyl compounds. The ligand used represented a new paradigm that influences homogeneous catalysis to this day.

    • Rosie J. Somerville
  • News & Views |

    As a consequence of their high instability, main-group carbonyl complexes are rare — only a few have been detected, typically in low-temperature matrices. Now, two siliconcarbonyl complexes have been isolated using innovative substituent patterns at the Si centre; their reactivity resembles that of their transition-metal counterparts.

    • Debdeep Mandal
    •  & Diego M. Andrada
    Nature Chemistry 12, 1089-1091
  • News & 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