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Chemistry International
Vol. 24, No. 5
September 2002


New Books and Publications

Modern Coordination Chemistry–The Legacy of Joseph Chatt

G. J. Leigh and N. Winterton, editors
Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, United Kingdom, pp. xviii + 386, 2002. (ISBN 0-85404-469-8)

Joseph Chatt

The scientific work of Joseph Chatt played a significant role in shaping the field of coordination chemistry as we know it today. The volume under review is an outgrowth of discussions held at the 34th International Coordination Conference (ICCC 34) in Edinburgh, Scotland in July 2000 commemorating Chatt’s contributions, while also celebrating the Golden Jubilee of the first meeting of this body organized by Chatt at the ICI Laboratories at the Frythe, Welwyn (near London). The present work is intended to provide a historical perspective of the scientific achievements of J. Chatt and to show how his contributions have led to current research in the field. These goals have been admirably achieved.

The volume is headed by a section containing personal reminiscences of five close co-workers: G. J. Leigh, R. G. Wilkins, G. A. Gamlen, D. M. Adams, and L. A. Duncanson. Reminiscences of other contributors are also dispersed throughout the subsequent chapters. The next seven sections feature chapters by active contributors organized around the broad range of interests of Joseph Chatt, namely hydrido and dihydrogen complexes, the chemistry of phosphines, transition metal complexes of olefins and other unsaturated hydrocarbons, chemistry related to dinitrogen complexes, biological nitrogen fixation, and patterns in stability and reactivity. One example worth mentioning here is the chapter by G. Frenking titled "The Dewar-Chatt- Duncanson Bonding Model of Transition Metal-Olefin Complexes Examined by Modern Quantum Chemical Methods."

In this review I would like to call attention to two original papers that have become classics in the field of hydridometal complexes. The first of these is "A Volatile Chlorohydride of Platinum" by J. Chatt, L. A. Duncanson, and B. L. Shaw, Proc. Chem. Soc. (1957) 343 announcing the synthesis of the new hydrido complex Pt(H)Cl(PEt3)2. The substitution reactions of this and related complexes were subjected to kinetic studies by F. Basolo and his soon to be famous graduate student H. B. Gray. The non-pi bonding hydrido ligand was found to confer a high kinetic trans effect lending support to the polarizability theory promulgated by the Russian school. A summary of this work including an amusing anecdote about a friendly competition between B. L. Shaw and H. B. Gray are recounted in the chapter by F. Basolo titled "Mechanisms of Platinum Reactions."

A second contribution that had enormous impact is "The Tautomerism of Arene and Ditertiary Phosphine Complexes of Ruthenium(0), and the Preparation of New Types of Hydridocomplexes of Ruthenium (II)," by J. Chatt and J. M. Davidson, J. Chem. Soc. (1965) 843-855. This paper established for the first time a reversible oxidative addition of aryl C-H bonds at a low valent metal center as also the remarkable intra-molecular oxidative C-H addition of a methyl group on the chelated diphosphine ligand, 1,2-bis(dimethylphosphino) ethane, dmpe. A continuation of this chemistry is presented in a chapter by S. Sabo-Etienne and B. Chaudret and also in a contribution by M. A. Bennett and J. R. Harper.

For readers interested in IUPAC affairs, it is appropriate to note here that J. Chatt served as secretary of the Commission on the Nomenclature of Inorganic Chemistry (CNIC) from 1959- 1963 and continued on as a member through 1971.

This volume makes a unique contribution to the history of coordination chemistry and to the record of contemporary developments in this multifaceted field. I recommend the volume as a necessary addition to institutional libraries and also for the personal book collections of chemists who are active in the practice and in the teaching of transition metal chemistry.

Reviewed by H. D. Kaesz, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of California, Los Angeles, USA.


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