Skip to content
Events

The new chemistry of the elements

Event

Starts:

May
122014

09:00

Ends:

May
132014

17:00

Location

The Royal Society, London, 6-9 Carlton House Terrace, London, SW1Y 5AG

Overview

Scientific discussion meeting in conjunction with the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina organised by Professor Peter Edwards FRS, Professor Nicholas Long, Professor Anthony Cheetham FRS, Professor Bernt Krebs, Professor Paul Raithby and Professor Martin Schroder

Event details

This discussion meeting – the first-ever linking the Royal Society and the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina – will confirm that the Periodic Table not only represents the best way of mastering the fascinating and diverse science and technology of the chemical elements, but also continues to inspire new science, thinking and avenues of multidisciplinary research through 'The new chemistry of the elements'.

The Periodic Table of the chemical elements continues to be the most fundamental natural system of classification ever devised.

Biographies of the organisers and speakers are available below, and you can download the draft programme. Recorded audio of the presentations will be available on this page after the event and the papers will be published in a future issue of Philosophical Transactions A.

This meeting is immediately followed by a related satellite meeting at the Royal Society at Chicheley Hall, home of the Kavli Royal Society International Centre.

Attending this event

This event is intended for researchers in relevant fields and is free to attend. There are a limited number of places and registration is essential. An optional lunch is offered and should be booked during registration (all major credit cards accepted).


Schedule of talks

Session 1: Evolution of the modern Periodic Table

6 talks Show detail Hide detail

Chair

Professor Martin Schroder, University of Nottingham, UK

Show speakers

How the Periodic Table has developed

Dr Eric Scerri, UCLA, USA

Abstract

The lecture will give a review of the history of the development of the periodic table starting with Dalton’s revival of the atomic theory and will move on to Gay-Lussac and Humbolt’s discovery of the law of combining gas volumes and how Dalton and others responded to this challenge. It will discuss two key ideas, namely triads of elements and Prout’s hypothesis that led to some early ideas concerning the relationship between the numerical properties of different elements. It will be argued that following Cannizzaro’s clarification of the notion of atomic weight the periodic system was independently discovered six times over a period of seven years. The historical survey will be extended into the 20th century to consider contributions from Moseley, quantum theory and quantum mechanics and most recently from special relativity. If time permits I will also touch on the question of the placement of certain elements (H, He, La, Ac, Lu, Lr) and the question of whether it is meaningful to seek an optimal periodic table. References: E.R. Scerri, The Periodic Table, Its Story and Its Significance, OUP, 2007; E.R. Scerri, A Very Short Introduction to the Periodic Table, OUP, 2013.

Show speakers

On the occurence of metallic character in the Periodic Table of the elements

Professor Friedrich Hensel, Philipps-Universitat Marburg, Germany

Abstract

Almost ninety years ago J.D.Bernal put forward the notion that any nonmetallic element of the Periodic Table will ultimately transform at high enough pressures into a metallic state .Indeed ,if we consider the extremes of pressures and temperatures found in many geophysical and astrophysical settings - remarkably,some of which are now accessible in terrestrial laboratories - the most abundant nonmetallic elements in the Universe succumb to metallization. These include hydrogen,helium,and oxygen which have recently shown to be genuine conductors at high enough pressures and temperatures. There is now also a wealth of experimental evidence which shows that most elemental metals that exist in the fluid state under normal ( i.e.room temperature,or close to room temperature,and pressure ) conditions,such as mercury,cesium and rubidium,become nonmetallic when they are continuously expanded to low densities.Metallic or nonmetallic behaviour in the Periodic Table is thus " not " an inherent and unchanging property of any element.Here we outline various models for predicting the conditions for the transition to, and from , the metallic state, including the very early,and pre-quantum mechanical models developed by G.A.Goldhammer ( 1913 ) and K.F.Herzfeld (1927 ) which still have considerable utility

Show speakers

Chair

Professor Hideo Hosono, Tokyo Institute of Technology, Japan

Show speakers

Chemistry of the superheavy elements

Dr Matthias Schadel, GSI, Germany

Abstract

Today, we “know” 26 man-made chemical elements beyond uranium; these are 22% of all elements. Fifteen elements, the ones from atomic number 104 (rutherfordium) to 118 are regularly termed superheavy elements (SHEs). Their one-atom-at-a-time synthesis in heavy-ion induced nuclear reactions and their detection and identification in nuclear decay spectroscopy does not only pose enormous challenges it also opens up hitherto unseen possibilities for “new chemistry”. SHEs do not only constitute a new class of elements from a nuclear perspective but also from a chemical point of view. According to Seaborg’s actinide concept, presumably the most dramatic modern revision of Mendeleev’s Periodic Table, SHEs are identical with transactinide elements. They provide unique and exciting opportunities to get insights into the influence of strong relativistic effects on the atomic electrons and to probe “relativistically” influenced chemical properties and the architecture of the Periodic Table at its far reach. In addition, they establish a test bench to challenge the validity and predictive power of modern fully-relativistic quantum chemical models.

Show speakers

The alkali metals: 200 years of discovery

Professor James Dye, Michigan State University, USA

Abstract

Alkali metal compounds have been known since antiquity. Until 1907, when Sir Humphrey Davy prepared shiny, reactive potassium and sodium metals, only the +1 oxidation state was present. Two years later (in unpublished notes) he showed that they formed blue and gold solutions with ammonia. This was rediscovered and published by W. Weyl in 1864. The identification of solvated electrons in these solutions by Charles Krause in 1907 set off a century of research on alkali metal solutions, followed by pulse-radiolysis studies of transient solvated electrons in a wide variety of polar and non-polar solvents. The 0 and +1 oxidation states of alkali metals in compounds were exclusive until 1968 when evidence for alkali metal anions in amine solutions was obtained. The isolation and structure of a crystalline salt of Na- in 1981, followed by over 30 other alkalides with Na-, K-, Rb- and Cs- anions, firmly established the -1 oxidation state of alkali metals. An interesting feature is that a single compound can contain both M+ and M-. In 1986 and later, a number of crystalline alkali metal electrides were synthesized, in which electrons occupy the same anionic sites as isostructural alkalides and halides. The final surprise was verified in 2009, when it was demonstrated that sodium metal becomes a transparent insulator at very high pressures, with a structure that suggests the formation of an inorganic electride! The role of electrons as genuine anions prompts the question, “Where should the electron be placed in the periodic table?”!

Show speakers

Session 2: Biological and biomedical chemistry of the elements

6 talks Show detail Hide detail

Chair

Professor Bernt Krebs, University of Muenster, Germany

Show speakers

Involvement of the chemical elements in evolution

Professor Ros Rickaby, University of Oxford, UK

Abstract

Life and the chemical environment are united in an escapable feedback cycle. Study of the availability of inorganic ions through time, may provide the most insight to this evolving system since metals are common to both, being present in the natural environment and employed as the catalytic centres of metalloenzymes. The conundrum of evolution is that life continually, and inadvertently, catalysed its own chemical challenges. But ultimately this drove life to greater complexity. The most revolutionary time in life’s history, was the advent and proliferation of oxygenic photosynthesis which forced the environment towards a lower carbon, but highly oxic ocean and atmosphere. From simple chemical considerations, we demonstrate that the evolving trace metal availability of the environment is paralleled by geological observations and the chemistry of life, during the gradual oxygenation of the planet. We suggest that evolution was chemically constrained, and that average changes in availability of particularly Fe, Zn and Cu, were critical for the systematic development of organisms.

Show speakers

Third row transition metals for the treatment of cancer

Professor Stephen Lippard, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA

Abstract

Platinum compounds are a mainstay of cancer chemotherapy, with over 50% of patients receiving platinum. But there is a great need for improvement. Major features of the cisplatin mechanism of action involve cancer cell entry, formation mainly of intrastrand cross-links that bend and unwind nuclear DNA, transcription inhibition, and induction of cell death programs while evading repair. Recently we discovered that platinum cross-link formation is not essential for activity. Monofunctional Pt compounds like phenanthriplatin, which make only a single bond to DNA nucleobases, can be far more active and effective against a different range of tumor types. Without a cross-link-induced bend, monofunctional complexes can be accommodated in the major groove of DNA. Their biological mechanism of action is similar to that of cisplatin. These discoveries opened the door to a large family of heavy metal-based drug candidates, including those of Os and Re, as will be described.

Show speakers

Chair

Professor Nicholas Long, Imperial College London, UK

Show speakers

Metal-based electron transfer in biological systems

Professor Harry Gray ForMemRS, Caltech, USA

Abstract

Biological electron transfers often occur between metal-containing cofactors that are separated by very large molecular distances. Understanding the underlying physics and chemistry of these electron transfer processes is the goal of much of the work in my laboratory. Employing laser flash-quench triggering methods, we have shown that 2-nm, coupling-limited Fe(II) to Ru(III) and Cu(I) to Ru(III) electron tunneling in Ru-modified cytochromes and blue copper proteins occurs on microsecond to nanosecond timescales. Redox equivalents can be transferred even longer distances by multistep tunneling (hopping) through intervening tyrosines and tryptophans. Notably, we have found that 2- to 3-nm hole hopping through an intervening tryptophan is several orders of magnitude faster than single-step tunneling in a Re-modified Pseudomonas aeruginosa azurin. The lessons we have learned about the control of electron tunneling and hopping are now guiding the design and construction of engineered metalloenzymes for the production of fuels and oxygenated hydrocarbons from sunlight and water.

Show speakers

The elements of life and medicines

Professor Peter Sadler, University of Warwick, UK

Abstract

I will make an element-by-element journey through the periodic table and identify elements which are essential for human life. However, somewhat similar to Mendeleev’s chemical periodic table in 1869, there are gaps and we do not have enough knowledge to fill them. Are essential elements all coded for by the human genome? In general, codes are not just for elements, but for specific chemical species, for the element, its oxidation state, type and number of coordinated ligands, and the coordination geometry. Human and microbial life are symbiotic. The periodic table of human life might therefore also include elements essential for microorganisms. The periodic table offers potential for novel therapeutic and diagnostic agents based not only on essential elements, but also non-essential elements, and radionuclides. Advances in inorganic drug design require knowledge of mechanism of action, including target sites and metabolism. Temporal speciation of elements in their biological environments at the atomic level is a major challenge, for which new methods are urgently needed.

Show speakers

Session 3: Materials chemistry of the elements

7 talks Show detail Hide detail

Chair

Professor Lee Cronin, University of Glasgow, UK

Show speakers

Materials discovery - from atomic energy landscapes to phase diagrams

Professor Martin Jansen, Max Planck Institute for Solid State Research, Germany

Show speakers

Superconductivity and the Periodic Table: From elements to materials

Professor Arndt Simon, Max Planck Institute for Solid State Research, Germany

Abstract

Superconductivity represents a coherent state of paired conduction electrons. Attraction of particles with the same charge seems puzzling, however, chemists are all too familiar with paired electrons, though localised in covalent bonds. We follow the idea that under certain conditions conduction electrons exhibit a tendency towards pairwise localisation through dynamic covalency. Based on a special feature in the normal state electronic band structure, the necessary condition for a metal to become a superconductor is the simultaneous occurrence of flat and steep bands at the Fermi level. This feature occurs with no exception for metals which finally become superconducting at low temperature. However, the sufficient condition at least for conventional superconductors is a strong enough coupling of flat band states to lattice vibrations, phonons. The idea of such a flat band/steep band scenario is tested with actual examples, starting from an element, Te, via the rare earths compounds RE2X2C2, REC2, RE2C2 to MgB2. The latter is particularly suited to illustrate the aspect of dynamic covalency. As a surprise, a peak-like structure of the electron-phonon coupling constant in momentum space with an enormous enhancement for non-commensurate phonon vectors is found. It is interesting to follow the historical evolution of thoughts concerning the phenomenon of superconductivity. Steps of a staircase are marked by Planck, Bose, Einstein, London, and finally Ogg, who discovered the essential role of electron pairs for superconductivity. His sensational report of superconductivity at 190K in quenched solutions of Na in NH3, however, could not be reproduced. It is tempting to perform experiments along the lines of this visionary scientist under more stringent conditions. Preliminary results from an emeritus with administrational freedom are reported.

Show speakers

Chair

Professor Anthony Cheetham FRS, University of Cambridge, UK

Show speakers

Chemistry of Ag(2+): a cornucopia of pecularities

Professor Wojciech Grochala, CENT, University of Warsaw, Poland

Abstract

Silver is the heavier congener of copper in the Periodic Table, but chemistry of these two elements is very different. While Cu(II) is the most common cationic form of copper, Ag(II) is rare [1] and its compounds exhibit a broad range of peculiar physicochemical properties. These include, but are not limited to: - uncommon oxidizing properties - unprecedented large mixing of metal and ligand valence orbitals - strong spin-polarization of neighbouring ligands (L), which leads to: - record large magnetic superexchange constants and also - ease of thermal decomposition of its salts as well as - robust Jahn–Teller effect which is preserved even at high pressure. The powerful oxidizing properties of Ag(II) are revealed not only in its behaviour towards inorganic and organic reagents, but also in its capability to oxidize oxo- and even fluoro- ligands from its first coordination sphere. Notably, all oxo-derivatives of Ag(II) are metastable and they decompose exothermally at temperatures not exceeding 120 oC [2,3,4]. Moreover, the formal redox potential of Ag(II) in 30% oleum approaches +2.9 V vs. NHE, the largest value ever measured for a fluorine-free system [5]. The electrochemically generated Ag(II) species are short-lived since they are capable of oxidizing the superacidic solvent [5]. Having in mind that the standard redox potential for the ½ Cl2 / Cl– redox pair is as small as + 1.36 V vs. NHE, it is no surprise that Ag(II)Cl2 has never been prepared. The strong Ag(4d)/L(2p) mixing (where L = F, O, N etc.) is revealed in the XPS spectra [6,7] and confirmed by quantum mechanical calculations. Since Ag(II) is a spin-½ cation, it also transfers spin density to the ligands. Appreciable share of free spin in both metal and ligand valence orbitals results in very large magnetic superexchange constants which may exceed 100 meV [8], with the possibility of the record value of up to 300 meV for a 1D system [9]. The quest continues for a 2D system with equally strong antiferromagnetic interaction, which could serve as a precursor towards a room-temperature supeerconductor. As all d9 systems, compounds of Ag(II) are susceptible towards Jahn–Teller effect. The JT effect is strong as it usually leads to appreciable elongation (or, rarely, shortening) of the AgL6 octahedron. It also proves to be quite robust as it is preserved at high pressure of up to 30 GPa for Ag(II)SO4 [10]. References [1] W. Grochala, R. Hoffmann, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. Engl. 40 (2001) 2742. [2] P. Malinowski et al., Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. Engl. 49 (2010) 1683. [3] P. Malinowski et al., Chem. Eur. J 17 (2011) 10524. [4] P. Malinowski et al., CrystEngComm 13 (2011) 6871. [5] P. Połczyński et al., Chem. Commun. 49 (2013) 7480. [6] W. Grochala, et al., ChemPhysChem 4 (2003) 997. [7] A. Grzelak et al., submitted (2014). [8] D. Kurzydłowski et al., Chem. Commun. 49 (2013) 6262. [9] T. Gilewski et al., in preparation (2014). [10] M. Derzsi et al., CrystEngComm 15 (2013) 192.

Show speakers

The chemistry of nanospace

Professor Susumu Kitagawa, Kyoto University, Japan

Abstract

Materials with nanosized spaces, often known as porous materials, are abundant in everyday modern life: they are used for gas storage, separation, and catalysis. Based on a new concept of bottom-up synthesis, we are now able to successfully develop novel porous materials including everything from serendipitous findings to tailor-made synthesis. These are called "porous coordination polymers" (PCPs) or "metal–organic frameworks" (MOFs), which are comprised of organic and inorganic materials. We have developed the functional chemistry of PCPs, discovered flexible porous materials, and created soft porous crystals, unlike anything available via conventional methods. Today several hundred different PCPs are known, and over 2,000 articles on this class of materials are being published annually worldwide. PCPs have great potential in applications for our immediate surroundings as well as a wide variety of fields, such as the global environment, natural resources, development of outer space, life sciences, and energy, demonstrating their extremely high value both for science and for industry.

Show speakers

A Periodic Table of metal oxides

Dr David Payne, Imperial College London, UK

Abstract

The 20th century is often known as the age of silicon and the 21st century is predicted to be the age of graphene, while the former has undoubtedly benefited our societies and economies, the latter holds a great promise but is yet to find widespread use. Beyond the elements alone there is of course a wider class of materials used in countless industrial, technological and medical applications – the oxides. This talk will focus on a “Periodic Table of Oxides” whose properties vary from insulating to semiconducting to metallic to superconducting, from transparent to absorbing to reflective and from varying types of magnetism to hosting some of the most exotic states discovered at the frontiers of condensed matter science. To highlight the importance of understanding these materials this talk will focus on oxides such as lead dioxide (lead/acid battery) and indium oxide and ITO (flat screen displays). The need to apply state-of-the-art photoelectron spectroscopies in order to fully understand the electronic structure of these technologically vital materials will be highlighted, work performed in collaboration with theoretician colleagues using density functional theory. To finish we will discuss the next generation of spectroscopic techniques – particularly high-pressure photoelectron spectroscopy (HiPPES) – a technique that promises a step-change in the understanding of oxide surfaces.

Show speakers

Session 4: Catalytic chemistry of the elements

7 talks Show detail Hide detail

Chair

Professor Wing-Tak Wong, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong

Show speakers

The activation of C - H bonds

Professor Christina White, University of Illinois, USA

Show speakers

Design and applications of metal-catalysed reactions for sustainable chemistry

Professor David Milstein, The Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel

Abstract

In view of global environmental and economic concerns, there is a strong need for the development of sustainable, environmentally benign chemical synthesis, hence discovery of ”green” reactions is a major goal of modern catalysis. Traditionally, catalysis by metal complexes has been based on the reactivity of the metal center, while the ligands bound to it influence its reactivity electronically and/or sterically, but do not interact directly with incoming substrate molecules. In recent years, complexes based on “cooperating” ligands were developed, in which the metal and ligand cooperate by both undergoing bond making and breaking in processes of substrate activation and product formation, providing new opportunities for catalytic design. We have developed a new mode of metal-ligand cooperation, involving ligand aromatization – dearomatization which provides a new approach to the activation of chemical bonds. Pincer-type complexes of several transition metals exhibit such cooperation, including complexes of Ru, Fe, Co, Rh, Ir, Ni, Pd, Pt, Mn and Re, leading to facile activation of various chemical bonds. This has led to new, environmentally benign catalytic reactions, including several synthetically useful reactions which either produce hydrogen (”acceptorless dehydrogenation”) or consume it. These reactions are efficient, proceed under neutral conditions and produce no waste. Reviews: (a) Gunanathan, C.; Milstein, D. Science, 2013, 341, 249 DOI: 10.1126/science.1229712 (b) Gunanathan, C.; Milstein, D. Accts. Chem. Res. 2011, 44, 588 (c) Milstein, D. Topics in Catalysis, 2010, 53, 915

Show speakers

Chair

Professor Paul Raithby, University of Bath, UK

Show speakers

Organometallic Synthesis and Catalysis in the Solid–State

Professor Andrew Weller, University of Oxford, UK

Show speakers

Catalysis for CO2 conversion

Professor Gabriele Centi, University of Messina, Italy

Abstract

The utilization of CO2 as a feedstock for producing chemicals is an interesting challenge to explore new concepts and new opportunities for catalysis and industrial chemistry. It is an excellent possibility to inject renewable energy in the energy and chemical production chains, but a major current hurdle for a large-scale use is the need to further improve production routes for renewable H2 by improving electrocatalysts and device technology in current electrolyzers. However, when cheap electrical energy from renewable sources is available, the use of CO2 could be already economic. In the organic synthesis and polymer chemistry, new routes for activating CO2 and produce valuable chemicals and/or materials are being developed. Electrocatalysis is also offering new possibilities, either to produce small organic molecules (fuels) to be used in conjunction or integrated with solar devices (for artificial leaf type systems), or as a valuable synthetic procedure. The main relevant aspects of these routes are summarized to present the status and outlooks, as well as the strategies, for carbon dioxide (re)use.

Show speakers

Final Discussions

Professor Peter Edwards FRS, University of Oxford, UK

Show speakers
The new chemistry of the elements The Royal Society, London 6-9 Carlton House Terrace London SW1Y 5AG UK