Thursday, November 25, 2010

Inorganic chemistry: Cation o' nine tails

The field of actinide chemistry is still young, not least because the radioactivity of these elements makes them difficult to work with. A study now reveals details of how actinide compounds might behave in water.

Reporting in Angewandte Chemie, Apostolidis et al.1 describe how they combined synthesis, spectroscopy and computational modelling to identify, for the first time, a series of complexes in which water molecules bind to ions of the actinide elements — which include some of the heaviest and least-stable elements known. Overcoming the difficulties associated with the intense radioactivity and complex chemistry of these metals, the authors found that one actinide cation binds directly to nine water molecules to form complex ions of the form [An(H2O)9]3+, where An is an actinide.

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