F. Albert Cotton pioneered the study of multiple bonding between transition metal atoms

F. Albert Cotton – pioneer in inorganic chemistry

Article on F. Albert Cotton

Biography & Contributions

F. Albert Cotton was born on April 09, 1930 – died on February 20, 2007. Albert Cotton was well known for his research work on transition metals. Albert Cotton got National Medal of Science in the year of 1982, Priestley Medal in the year of 1998 and Wolf Prize in the year of 2000.

He pioneered the study of multiple bonding between transition metal atoms, starting with research on rhenium halides. Albert Cotton identified the quadruple bond in the Re2Cl2−8 ion. He was an early proponent of single crystal X-ray diffraction as a tool for elucidating the extensive chemistry of metal complexes. He coined the term "hapticity".

Cotton found numerous compounds containing metal atom clusters with single bonds, and discovered the existence of double, triple and quadruple metal-metal bonds.

In explaining the nature of metal-metal bonding and of bonding between metal and carbon atoms in organometallic molecules, Cotton’s work was highly important in helping to understand catalysts.

Transition Metal

The transition elements are those elements having a partially filled d or f subshell in any common oxidation state. The term "transition elements" most commonly refers to the d-block transition elements. The 2B elements zinc, cadmium and mercury do not strictly meet the defining properties, but are usually included with the transition elements because of their similar properties. The f-block transition elements are sometimes known as "inner transition elements". The first row of them is called the lanthanides or rare earths. The second row consists of the actinides. All of the actinides are radioactive and those above Z=92 are manmade in nuclear reactors or accelerators.

The first main transition series begins with either scandium (symbol Sc, atomic number 21) or titanium (symbol Ti, atomic number 22) and ends with zinc (symbol Zn, atomic number 30). The second series includes the elements yttrium (symbol Y, atomic number 39) to cadmium (symbol Cd, atomic number 48). The third series extends from lanthanum (symbol La, atomic number 57) to mercury (symbol Hg, atomic number 80). These three main transition series are included in the set of 30 elements often called the d-block transition elements.

The general properties of the transition elements are high melting point metals, several oxidation states, form colored compounds and they are often paramagnetic. The transition metals and their compounds are known for their homogeneous and heterogeneous catalytic activity.

One important use of transition metals and their compounds is as catalysts for a variety of industrial processes, mostly in the petroleum and polymer (plastics, fibres) industries, in which organic molecules are isomerizes, built up from simple molecules, oxidized, hydrogenated, or caused to polymerize. Several transition elements are important to the chemistry of living systems, the most familiar examples being iron, cobalt, copper, and molybdenum.

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