Organometallic Chemistry

Unit code: CHEM41521
Credit Rating: 10
Unit level: Level 4
Teaching period(s): Semester 1
Offered by School of Chemistry
Available as a free choice unit?: N




The course unit unit aims to:

  • Provide an overview of advanced topics in organometallic chemistry including fundamental aspects of structure and bonding and applications in organic synthesis and catalysis.
  • Highlight current applications of this technology in the synthesis of bioactive molecules.
  • Emphasise aspects of core inorganic and organic chemistry that are essential to the study of organometallic complexes and their reactivity.
  • Illustrate the importance of this topic in contemporary research and development.




Students should note that this course is taught by members of staff from the Inorganic and Organic Teaching groups (Dr Mair 33%; Prof. Greaney 33%; Prof Larrosa 33%). The course covers different material than is covered within CHEM30311.

  • Brief revision of topics covered previously within the curriculum.
  • Metal alkyl synthesis and reactivity.
  • Applications of main group metal complexes, especially organolithium complexes, to organic synthesis.
  • Directed metallation of organic substrates using organolithiums.
  • Limited aspects of organotitanium and organocuprate chemistry.
  • The breakdown of transition metal alkyl complexes, including reductive elimination and -hydrogen elimination.
  • Transition metal coupling chemistry (including Heck, Negishi, Hartwig-Buchwald and Susuki coupling).
  • -Complexation: metal-alkene and metal-alkyne complexes.
  • Alkyne-vinylidene rearrangements.
  • Alkyne polymerization and higher order cycloadditions.
  • -Allyl complexes: structure and bonding and application to organic synthesis.
  • Structure and bonding in Fischer/Schrock Carbene complexes.
  • Preparation of Carbene complexes.
  • Use of carbene complexes in synthesis: Group 6 TM carbenes (Stoichiometric: Dotz chemistry etc) ii. Catalytic processes (as exemplified by the use of Cu, Rh, Ru complexes) iii. acetylene-vinylidene rearrangements and related reactions.



Knowledge and understanding

  • Describe the fundamental mechanistic principles governing the reactivity of main group and transition metal organometallics.
  • Discuss the stability and breakdown of metal complexes.
  • Provide the mechanisms of common catalytic organometallic reactions.
  • Discuss the applications of these reactions to regio-, chemo-, and stereo-selective organic synthesis.
  • Describe the isolobal analogy.
  • Provide examples of fluxional organometallic complexes and describe their behaviour.

Intellectual skills

  • Apply the basic principles to tackle unseen problems in organometallic chemistry.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Problem-solving skills using qualitative and quantitative information
  • Analytical skills (understanding complex concepts and data interpretation)
  • Time management and organisational skills (ability to work independently and to work efficiently and effectively)

Assessment methods

  • Written exam - 100%

Recommended reading

  • Ch. Elschenbroich and A. Salzer, "Organometallics: A Concise Introduction", VCH.
  • R.H. Crabtree The Organometallic Chemistry of the Transition Elements 2nd Edition Wiley.
  • M. Bochmann, "Organometallics 1" and "Organometallics 2", Oxford University Press Chemistry Primer Series.
  • L.S. Hegedus, Transition Metals in the Synthesis of Complex Organic Molecules, University Science Books.
  • J. Clayden, N. Greeves, S. Warren, P. Wothers "Organic Chemistry" Oxford University Press



Feedback methods

  • Feedback will be given during the course on the work set for problem classes. That feedback will be made in the most appropriate form.
  • Members of staff will provide written or verbal feedback on specific questions that students may have on any aspect of the course.
  • In addition, a detailed set of answers will be available for all questions set by the staff members. The answer sheets will be made available in lectures and will be able to be downloaded from Blackboard.
  • Staff will also give feedback on attempts made on past exam papers and will be able to provide an approximate classification.
  • An additional 2 hour workshop session will be organized to maximize opportunities for students to ask questions and receive feedback, both verbal and written.

Study hours

  • Assessment written exam - 2 hours
  • Lectures - 21 hours
  • Practical classes & workshops - 5 hours
  • Independent study hours - 72 hours

Teaching staff

Michael Greaney - Unit coordinator

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