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Chemical Bonding

Periodic Graphics

Periodic Graphics: Making molecular sandwiches

Chemical educator and Compound Interest blogger Andy Brunning looks at the chemistry and history of ferrocene and other sandwich compounds.

by Andy Brunning, special to C&EN
March 26, 2023 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 101, Issue 10


An infographic describes the history of ferrocene and the chemistry and uses of other sandwich compounds. Researchers discovered ferrocene and determined its structure in the 1950s. The 1973 Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to Geoffrey Wilkinson and Ernst Otto Fischer for their determination of ferrocene's structure and subsequent research on sandwich compounds. Researchers have also made compounds like ferrocene with variations to the central metal or the molecules around it. Sandwich compounds have been used in glucose sensors and as antiknock agents in gasoline.

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References used to create this graphic:

Astruc, Didier. “Why Is Ferrocene So Exceptional?” Eur. J. Inorg. Chem. (2017). DOI: 10.1002/ejic.201600983.

Cantrill, Stuart. “An Iron-Clad Structure: Ferrocene.” Nature (2014). DOI: 10.1038/nature13357.

Öhrström, Lars. “Ferrocene.” Chemistry World, May 1, 2013.

Štěpnička, Petr. “Forever Young: The First Seventy Years of Ferrocene.” Dalton Trans. (2022). DOI: 10.1039/D2DT00903J.

Werner, Helmut. “At Least 60 Years of Ferrocene: The Discovery and Rediscovery of the Sandwich Complexes.” Angew. Chem., Int. Ed. (2012). DOI: 10.1002/anie.201201598.

A collaboration between C&EN and Andy Brunning, author of the popular graphics blog Compound Interest

To see more of Brunning’s work, go to To see all of C&EN’s Periodic Graphics, visit



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