Professor Karen Goldberg and researchers at the University of North Carolina and the University of Washington have described the first observation of a metal complex that binds methane in solution. The finding is reported in the October 23, 2009 issue of Science. The Science report describes a σ-methane complex that is shown to be quite stable in solution. This report is the first observation and full characterization of a relatively long-lived σ-methane complex in solution. Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectra of the complex were obtained by protonation of a rhodium-methyl precursor at -110 °C. The complex is observed to rapidly tumble in the coordination sphere of rhodium, exchanging free and bound hydrogens. Density functional theory calculations indicate that the complex is best described as η2-C,H methane coordination to the metal.
Professor Goldberg is the Director of the UW-based NSF Center for Enabling New Technologies through Catalysis, a Center for Chemical Innovation that seeks to find efficient, inexpensive and environmentally friendly ways to produce chemicals and fuels.
Citation: “Characterization of a Rhodium(I) σ-Methane Complex in Solution” Wesley Bernskoetter, Cynthia Schauer, Karen Goldberg, Maurice Brookhart, Science, 326 (5952), 553 (23 October 2009)
Read the Science paper