Inorganic Chemistry Lesson of the Day: 4-Coordinated Complexes

My last lesson stated that the most common coordination number for coordination complexes is 6.  The next most common coordination number is 4, and complexes with this type of coordination adopt either the tetrahedral or the square planar geometry.  The tetrahedron is far more common than the square plane for 4-coordinated complexes, and the type of geometry depends a lot on the size and bonding strength of the ligands.  If the ligands are too big, then a tetrahedral geometry provides greater separation between ligands and minimizes electron repulsion.  If the ligands are too small, then there is room for 2 extra ligands to bond to the metal centre to form a 6-coordinated complex, and an octahedral geometry is adopted instead.

The square planar geometry is usually adopted by 4-coordinated complexes with metal ions that have a d8 electronic configuration.  Examples of such ions include Ni2+, Pd2+, Pt2+, and Au3+.

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Inorganic Chemistry Lesson of the Day: 6-Coordinated Complexes

The most common coordination number for inorganic coordination complexes is 6, and these complexes will most commonly adopt an octahedral geometry.  This geometry is especially common for coordination complexes with a first-row transition metal ion as the Lewis-acid centre.  It consists of 4 ligands forming a plane, and 2 ligands above and below the plane.  The “octa-” prefix in “octahedral” refers to the 8 faces that this geometry has.

Two alternative geometries of 6-coordinated complexes are the trigonal prism and hexagonal plane; these are far less common than the octahedron.