6 May 2009

Henry Taube and Electron Transfer

Literature Discussion

Submitted by Bradley Wile, Ohio Northern University
Topics Covered: 

When teaching reactions and mechanisms of inorganic complexes, I tend to get to the end of the chapter (out of breath) and find myself thinking "*$#&, I forgot about electron transfer". While I think it is important that students get an understanding of this in an upper level inorganic course, I simply don't have, or forgot to budget the time to really talk about it.

I give them a brief rationale for why one would want to study mechanisms of electron transfer ("Remember all those redox reactions you balanced back in first year? Are you curious how those electrons moved around?"), and hand out/refer them to an excellently written retrospective on the career and research of Henry Taube (see link below).

I found this Inorganic Chemistry Viewpoint article to be very "readable", without sacrificing chemical detail (the nitty gritty). I breifly highlight some of the interesting points (Co3 + Cr2 --> Co2 + Cr3), and encourage them to read on to learn more about the career of a Nobel Prize winning inorganic chemist.

PDF icon Taube questions.pdf46.67 KB
Learning Goals: 

Students should gain an understanding of the mechanisms for electron transfer. One of the other main goals for this reading is to have the students learn and appreciate the history of the field. I try to highlight the logical progression of research goals, and this article demonstrates the influence of Taube's early years on the research conducted later.

Evaluation Results: 

Students seem to like the article. Many comment that Henry Taube has an extraordinary moustache!

Creative Commons License: 
Creative Commons Licence


Thanks for posting this.  It looks like a great resource.  Usually my link into electron transfer/Henry Taube is that the other inorganic chemist in our dept. got his PhD with Taube.  This usually perks student interest.  It will be nice to have something else to draw on!

I added a .pdf featuring some guiding questions for use of this article. Please feel free to suggest changes or additions if you have something similar!

Oh, and also added a link to the Nobel Foundation page on Taube.

Thanks for adding them! --Hilary

I used this LO in my junior/senior level inorganic class.  I delivered the article in pdf form, along with the reading questions handout by email on Tuesday and asked them to read it by Thursday,and have answers ready for the reading questions.  For about half of the class this was the first time that they have had to read an article from the primary literature in a non-lab course (and for some it was sadly the first time that they had been asked to read primary literature in any class.)

I found this an excellent resource to introduce the ideas of Inner sphere electron transfer and it allowed me to talk about the history of the experimental designs.  It also tied in well with our previous discussions of substitutional lability and provided an excellent segue into Marcus theory of electron transfer.  

I gave the students in my class and added assignment to each come up with one more reading question for the article and I will post those here, once I have collated them.   


Thank you for posting this.  I am currently preparing my lecture for this topic, and this is very helpful.  I also plan to assign this as a reading assignment with the guided questions.



Hi Brad!

I used this in my jr/sr inorganic course as well. I think it's a non-threatening introduction to the chemical literature for students, since it's more of an overview and not too detailed. Like Sheila, I used it to introduce the ideas of inner sphere electron transfer, and it would allow me to get into more detailed Marcus Theory, even though I didn't get that far.

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