Unmasking the constitution and bonding of the proposed lithium nickelate “Li 3 NiPh 3 (solv) 3 ”: revealing the hidden C 6 H 4 ligand

Somerville, Rosie J.; Borys, Andryj M.; Perez-Jimenez, Marina; Nova, Ainara; Balcells, David; Malaspina, Lorraine A.; Grabowsky, Simon; Carmona, Ernesto; Hevia, Eva; Campos, Jesús (2022). Unmasking the constitution and bonding of the proposed lithium nickelate “Li 3 NiPh 3 (solv) 3 ”: revealing the hidden C 6 H 4 ligand. Chemical Science, 13(18), pp. 5268-5276. The Royal Society of Chemistry 10.1039/d2sc01244h

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More than four decades ago, a complex identified as the planar homoleptic lithium nickelate
“Li3 NiPh3(solv)3” was reported by Taube and co-workers. This and subsequent reports involving this complex have lain dormant since; however, the absence of an X-ray diffraction structure leaves questions as to the nature of the Ni–PhLi bonding and the coordination geometry at Ni. By
systematically evaluating the reactivity of Ni(COD)2 with PhLi under different conditions, we have found that this classical molecule is instead a unique octanuclear complex, [{Li3(solv) 2Ph3Ni}2(m-h2 :h2 -C 6H4 )] (5). This is supported by X-ray crystallography and solution-state NMR studies. A theoretical bonding analysis from NBO, QTAIM, and ELI perspectives reveals extreme back-bonding to the bridging C 6H4 ligand resulting in dimetallabicyclobutane character, the lack of a Ni–Ni bond, and pronounced s-bonding between the phenyl carbanions and nickel, including a weak sC–Li / sNi interaction with the C–Li bond acting as a s-donor. Employing PhNa led to the isolation of [Na2 (solv)3Ph2NiCOD]2 (7) and [Na2(solv)3 Ph2(NaC8H11 )Ni(COD)]2 (8), which lack the benzyne-derived ligand. These findings provide new insights into the synthesis, structure, bonding and reactivity of heterobimetallic nickelates, whose prevalence in organonickel chemistry and catalysis is likely greater than previously believed.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


08 Faculty of Science > Department of Chemistry, Biochemistry and Pharmaceutical Sciences (DCBP)

UniBE Contributor:

Borys-Smith, Andryj Machaelo, Malaspina, Lorraine, Grabowsky, Simon, Hevia Freire, Eva


500 Science > 570 Life sciences; biology
500 Science > 540 Chemistry
000 Computer science, knowledge & systems




The Royal Society of Chemistry




Simon Grabowsky

Date Deposited:

19 Dec 2022 14:28

Last Modified:

19 Dec 2022 18:39

Publisher DOI:


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