On his way to making a coordination complex, Steven Welsh synthesized this intermediate, which created star-shaped crystals on his round-bottom flask. Welsh studies the bonding in these metal complexes called metallaboratranes as part of his PhD work in Anthony Hill’s group at the Australian National University. This class of metal complex involves a so-called scorpionate ligand—a molecule that binds to a metal atom in three places in a way that resembles a scorpion holding the metal with its two pincers and tail (scorpionate ligand is yellow in example structure shown). In a metallaboratrane, the scorpionate ligand also features a boron atom that creates a bond between the boron and the metal (arrow in structure). This bonding imparts unusual properties to these complexes.
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