Electronic structure and metal-metal interactions in trinuclear face-shared [M3X12]3- (M = Mo, W; X = F, Cl, Br, I) systems

Germán Cavigliasso, Robert Stranger*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    8 Citations (Scopus)


    The molecular and electronic structures of trinuclear face-shared [M 3X12]3- species of Mo (X = F, Cl, Br, I) and W (X = Cl), containing linear chains of metal atoms, have been investigated using density functional theory. The possibility of variations in structure and bonding has been explored by considering both symmetric (D3d) and unsymmetric (C3v) forms, the latter having one long and one short metal-metal distance. Analysis of the bonding in the structurally characterized [Mo3I12]3- trimer reveals that the metal-metal interaction qualitatively corresponds to a two-electron three-center σ bond between the Mo atoms and, consequently, a formal Mo-Mo bond order of 0.5. However, the calculated spin densities suggest that the electrons in the metal-metal σ bond are not fully decoupled and therefore participate in the antiferromagnetic interactions of the metal cluster. Although the same observation applies to [Mo3X12]3- (X = Br, Cl, F) and [W3Cl12]3-, both the spin densities and shorter distances between the metal atoms indicate that the metal-metal interaction is stronger in these systems. The broken-symmetry approach combined with spin projection has been used to determine the energy of the low-lying spin multiplets arising from the magnetic coupling between the metal centers. Either the symmetric and unsymmetric S = 3/2 state is predicted to be the ground state for all five systems. For [Mo3X12]3- (X = Cl, Br, I), the symmetric form is more stable but the unsymmetric structure, where two metal centers are involved in a metal-metal triple bond while the third center is decoupled, lies close in energy and is thermally accessible. Consequently, at room temperature, interconversion between the two energetically equivalent configurations of the unsymmetric form should result in an averaged structure that is symmetric. This prediction is consistent with the reported structure of [Mo3I12]3-, which, although symmetric, indicates significant movement of the central Mo atom toward the terminal Mo atoms on either side. In contrast, unsymmetric structures with a triple bond between two metal centers are predicted for [Mo3F 2]3- and [W3C12]3-, as the symmetric structure lies too high in energy to be thermally accessible.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)3072-3083
    Number of pages12
    JournalInorganic Chemistry
    Issue number8
    Publication statusPublished - 21 Apr 2008


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