30 Jun 2016

Literature Discussion of “Design, synthesis, and carbon-heteroatom coupling reactions of organometallic nickel (IV) complexes.”

Literature Discussion

Submitted by daniel kissel, Lewis University

This literature discussion is designed for upper-level inorganic chemistry students. The article explores the motivations, design, and characterization of novel nickel(II) and nickel(IV) complexes for carbon-heteroatom bond forming reactions. Students can apply and integrate their knowledge of organic chemistry mechanisms, organometallic chemistry, and techniques for characterizing metal-ligand compounds that include NMR and CV.

This literature discussion was created as part of the NSF TUES VIPEr Workshop 2016 at the University of Michigan Ann Arbor based on the article “Design, synthesis, and carbon-heteroatom coupling reactions of organometallic nickel (IV) complexes.”

Reference: Nicole M. Camasso and Melanie S. Sanford Science 2015, 347, 1218-1220.  DOI: 10.1126/science.aaa4526. Supplementary materials at www.sciencemag.org/ content/347/6227/1218/suppl/DC1.

The article was read by a team of seven workshop participants and the corresponding author, Prof. Sanford, presented the work to this audience. Following discussions with Prof. Sanford and between workshop participants, the LO was created.

File Lit Discussion (word)244.43 KB
PDF icon Lit Discussion (pdf)311.62 KB
Learning Goals: 


General learning goals for literature discussions


Through reading this article, students will be able to…

  • integrate information from different subdisciplines of chemistry as they apply to answering research questions

  • extract information from figures, schemes, and tables in a scientific paper.

  • relate content in the current literature to concepts covered in class.

  • discuss scientific material with peers in an academic manner.

  • develop opinions and arguments related to a scientific paper and support them using external sources.

  • articulate the motivation and implications of scientific research presented in a scientific paper.

  • use references in the article to find and read literature precedents for concepts described in the primary article.


Learning goals specific to this literature discussion.


Students will be able to…

  • utilize general chemical knowledge to interpret research motivation and suggest potential issues (Question 1)

  • determine molecular geometries and count electrons for inorganic complexes (Question 3)

  • interpret and characterize intermediate products by NMR (Question 4)

  • demonstrate ability to interpret a voltammogram at a basic level. (Question 5a)

  • determine d-orbital splitting for multiple oxidation states and use this to determine potential characterization methods (Question 5b-d)

  • analyze NMR spectral data to compare characteristics (electron density, Lewis acidity, geometry, etc.) of metals discussed in the article. (Questions 6-8)

  • analyze the ligand environment around a metal center and make detailed comparisons between a series of related complexes. (Question 9)

  • draw transition states for and cite evidence to support a proposed reaction mechanism. (Question 10)

  • discuss the details of the nucleophilicity parameter and how it relates to reacton rate. (Question 11)

  • analyze the features of a cyclic voltammogram and compare with chemical reactivity (Question 12)

Implementation Notes: 

We have included a wide range of discussion questions, but expect that those who adopt this LO will pick and choose questions as they see fit.

There are a couple ways we plan to implement this literature discussion:

1. Students will read the article and answer a few of the simpler questions before coming to class. In class, students will discuss several questions at a time in small groups, followed by whole class discussion. Small groups may revise their answers accordingly, and will submit their group answers in addition to their individual responses at the end of the period.

2. Students will be divided into small groups and assigned a question from the lit exercise, then given 1 week to read over the article outside of class. During this time, students will be expected to answer questions 1-3 individually, and work with their groups to answer their assigned question. Each group will share their thoughts and opinions regarding the answers to their assigned question by presenting to the entire class in a “chalk talk” type discussion at the white board. Groups will be provided with images of any figure listed in the paper and lit discussion exercise in powerpoint so they can project images relevant to their discussion to the entire class.

Time Required: 
1-2 class periods for entire LO. Can be modified to be shorter
Evaluation Methods: 

This LO was created at the VIPEr Workshop in June 2016 and has not yet been evaluated.

Some possible evaluation methods:

  • The LO could be evaluated from written student work individually or from small groups, from the in-class discussion, or both. One method may be to allow students to write their answers to the discussion questions as homework in one color pen and then have them make changes during the in-class discussion in a different color pen. The resulting worksheets could be collected and some questions graded based on individual student answers and some questions graded based on group answers.

  • Faculty could ask students to read the article and then divide them into groups to prepare short presentations on different concepts (NMR, CV, electron-counting, etc.). These presentations could be rated by faculty and students.

  • Faculty could ask problem set, quiz and/or exam questions related to questions and concepts. A problem set related to this LO is posted on VIPEr.

Evaluation Results: 

This LO was created at the VIPEr Workshop in June 2016. No evaluation results have yet been obtained but two of the team members who created this LO will be using it in their classes during AY2016-2017. We will report back on the evaluation results.

Creative Commons License: 
Creative Commons Licence


I used this LO in my senior-level discussion-based organometallics course in Fall 2016. Although I did not collect student responses, I gave the students the reading guide to help them prepare for class. This allowed the discussion to be aimed/developed in a non-random way. In future years, I would recommend assigning it as preclass homework, letting students use their notes during class, and then collecting it after the discussion, to give something to grade or evaluate student performance.

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