A Blueprint for the Stabilisation of Sub-valent Alkaline Earth Complexes

19 May 2023, Version 1
This content is a preprint and has not undergone peer review at the time of posting.


The study of sub-valent Group 2 chemistry is a relatively new research field, being established in 2007 with the report of the first Mg(I) dimers. These species are stabilized by the formation of a Mg–Mg covalent bond; however, the extension of this chemistry to heavier alkaline earth (AE) metals has been frustrated by significant synthetic challenges, primarily associated with the instability of heavy AE–AE interactions. Here we present a new blueprint for the stabilization of heavy AE(I) complexes, based upon the reduction of AE(II) precursors with planar coordination geometries. We report the synthesis and structural characterisation of homoleptic trigonal planar AE(II) complexes of the monodentate amides {N(SiMe3)2}– and {N(Mes)(SiMe3)}–. DFT calculations showed that the LUMOs of these complexes all show some d-character for AE = Ca-Ba. DFT analysis of the square planar Sr(II) complex [Sr{N(SiMe3)2}(dioxane)2]∞ revealed analogous frontier orbital d-character. AE(I) complexes that could be accessed by reduction of these AE(II) precursors were modelled computationally, revealing exergonic formation in all cases. Crucially, NBO calculations show that some d-character is preserved in the SOMO of theoretical AE(I) products upon reduction, showing that d-orbitals could play a crucial role in achieving stable heavy AE(I) complexes.


alkaline earth

Supplementary materials

Supporting information file
Supporting information data for manuscript, containing experimental details and procedures, NMR data analysis, X-ray crystallography, IR spectroscopy, DFT calculations and buried volume calculations.


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