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Searching for Organometallic Substances: Home

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Judith Currano
1973 Wing, Chemistry Laboratories
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Organometallic substances are some of the most challenging structures to retrieve in the chemical literature.  This is largely due to the fact that the information retrieval systems were largely created to handle structure searching for organic substances.  As a result, there is little standardization in the way in which organometallic structures are input into the various resources; for example, the Cambridge Structural Database handles coordinations differently than SciFinder or Reaxys.  The following tips and pointers should get you started using three resources, the Cambridge Structural Database, SciFinder, and Reaxys, to find organometallic substances, their properties, and their reactions.

Searching by Ligand Formula

  • Determining ligand formula - the critical pieces are the number of atoms of each metal, the number of ligands, and the number and type of atoms in each ligand that coordinate to the metal.
    • First list the metals in alphabetical order
      • If there is more than one atom of each metal, the number of atoms of that type will follow the atom symbol
    • Next establish the kinds of ligands, each type of atom is given a code, according to the following chart


  • The codes are ordered alphabetically
  • “special ligands,” such as carbonyls and cyano ligands have their own codes

  • Each formula is enclosed in curly brackets when it is added to the full ligand formula of the complex. 
  • Ligands are ordered in alphabetical order
  • If the complex contains more than one of a particular type of ligand, the number follows the closing brace for that ligand 
  • Example: CoFe{(5)L}{CO}4{D}{X}