Enhancing the chemistry of zinc

June 15, 2012 By Sathya Achia Abraham
Optimized structure of Zn(AuF6)3, a molecule where zinc is in the +III oxidation state. Credit: Devleena Samanta

(Phys.org) -- By tinkering with a zinc molecule, Virginia Commonwealth University researchers have discovered it can exist in a higher oxidation state, opening the door for a new form of chemistry and new composition of matter.

The of an element is key to understanding processes in including , and reaction mechanisms. For decades, chemists have been fascinated with the possibility that the group 12 elements of the periodic table, which includes zinc, and mercury, could exist at a higher oxidation state. Previously, scientists had found mercury to exist in the +IV oxidation state, but have never shown that zinc, being much lighter in weight compared to mercury, could exist beyond the +II oxidation state.

A new series of theoretical work by Puru Jena, Ph.D., distinguished professor of physics at VCU, and his graduate student Devleena Samanta, shows that ‘higher and unusual oxidation states of metals can be achieved using ligands with large electron affinities such as superhalogens.’

In the study, Jena and Samanta demonstrated that by using specific ligands that satisfy two important criteria – high electron affinity and no tendency to coalesce – unusually high oxidation states of elements can be stabilized. The discovery was published online last month in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

“Our new findings open the door for a new kind of chemical reaction, and therefore new chemistry,” said Jena.

“We believe that our work provides a new perspective on how to manipulate oxidation states and therefore one can imagine tremendous applications of this in all sphere of chemistry and material science,” said Samanta.

Explore further: Researchers discover a new class of highly electronegative chemical species

Related Stories

Size matters in crucial redox reactions

October 12, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Particle size has a far more dramatic impact on chemical reactivity than previously thought, according to new research from UC Davis. The results have implications for understanding a wide range of vital ...

Recommended for you

A new form of real gold, almost as light as air

November 25, 2015

Researchers at ETH Zurich have created a new type of foam made of real gold. It is the lightest form ever produced of the precious metal: a thousand times lighter than its conventional form and yet it is nearly impossible ...

Getting under the skin of a medieval mystery

November 23, 2015

A simple PVC eraser has helped an international team of scientists led by bioarchaeologists at the University of York to resolve the mystery surrounding the tissue-thin parchment used by medieval scribes to produce the first ...

Moonlighting molecules: Finding new uses for old enzymes

November 27, 2015

A collaboration between the University of Cambridge and MedImmune, the global biologics research and development arm of AstraZeneca, has led researchers to identify a potentially significant new application for a well-known ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.