6 May 2009

Henry Taube and Electron Transfer

Submitted by Bradley Wile, Ohio Northern University
Evaluation Results: 

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


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.

Topics Covered: 
Course Level: 
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.

12 Jan 2009

House: Inorganic Chemistry

Submitted by Adam R. Johnson, Harvey Mudd College

House (Inorganic chemistry):  The book is divided into 5 parts:  first, an introductory section on atomic structure, symmetry, and bonding; second, ionic bonding and solids; third, acids, bases and nonaqueous solvents; fourth, descriptive chemistry; and fifth, coordination chemistry.  The first three sections are short, 2-4 chapters each, while the descriptive section (five chapters) and coordination chemistry section (seven chapters covering ligand field theory, spectroscopy, synthesis and reaction chemistry, organometallics, and bioinorganic chemistry.) are longer.  Each chapter includes references (both texts and primary literature) for further reading, and a few problems (answers not available in the back of the book). 

I thought the text was generally good.  This text felt aimed at the introductory one-semester inorganic course offered at most schools rather than an advanced (senior/grad) course.  Although MO theory is developed in the text, most of the coordination chemistry is described using crystal field theory, though a short section on MO theory for complexes is included.  The sections on descriptive chemistry of the elements are very good and not overloaded with too much information, and the writing style (throughout the text) is easy to read and conversational.

My main complaint about the book, and this may seem petty, is that the molecular orbitals (throughout) do not accurately depict the way actual orbitals look;  they are too "pointy." 

The list price for the student text is $99.95 for a paperback, 864p version.

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26 Mar 2008

Housecroft and Sharpe: Inorganic Chemistry, 3ed

Submitted by Lori Watson, Earlham College

Housecroft and Sharpe (Inorganic Chemistry, 3ed): This is a comprehensive inorganic textbook designed primarily for students at the Junior/Senior level. P-Chem would not be needed as a prerequisite for this text, but would be helpful. It includes both theoretical and descriptive material along with special topics, enough for a two semester course though it is easily adaptable to a one-semester "advanced inorganic" course by choosing only some topics. It is written in a clear and generally readable style and the full-color graphic contribute to student understanding. Ancillaries include electronic versions of most figures, and a student site with a limited number of multiple choice review questions for each chapter. The 3rd edition updates the end-of -the-chapter problems, though disappointingly does not draw problems from the recent literature. In general, these are good review problems to make sure students understand the basic concepts, but some faculty will want to supplement student assignments with more challenging problems. The list price for the student text is $175 for a paperback, 1098p version.

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