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Bioinorganic Chemistry and Applications
Volume 2007, Article ID 17416, 46 pages
Review Article

The Nature of the Chemical Bond in Linear Three-Body Systems: From I3 to Mixed Chalcogen/Halogen and Trichalcogen Moieties

Dipartimento di Chimica Inorganica ed Analitica, Universitá degli Studi di Cagliari, S.S. 554 Bivio per Sestu, Monserrato, Cagliari 09042, Italy

Received 2 August 2006; Revised 17 October 2006; Accepted 17 October 2006

Academic Editor: Govindasamy Mugesh

Copyright © 2007 M. Carla Aragoni et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The 3 centre-4 electrons (3c-4e) and the donor/acceptor or charge-transfer models for the description of the chemical bond in linear three-body systems, such as I3 and related electron-rich (22 shell electrons) systems, are comparatively discussed on the grounds of structural data from a search of the Cambridge Structural Database (CSD). Both models account for a total bond order of 1 in these systems, and while the former fits better symmetric systems, the latter describes better strongly asymmetric situations. The 3c-4e MO scheme shows that any linear system formed by three aligned closed-shell species (24 shell electrons overall) has reason to exist provided that two electrons are removed from it to afford a 22 shell electrons three-body system: all combinations of three closed-shell halides and/or chalcogenides are considered here. A survey of the literature shows that most of these three-body systems exist. With some exceptions, their structural features vary continuously from the symmetric situation showing two equal bonds to very asymmetric situations in which one bond approaches to the value corresponding to a single bond and the second one to the sum of the van der Waals radii of the involved atoms. This indicates that the potential energy surface of these three-body systems is fairly flat, and that the chemical surrounding of the chalcogen/halogen atoms can play an important role in freezing different structural situations; this is well documented for the I3 anion. The existence of correlations between the two bond distances and more importantly the linearity observed for all these systems, independently on the degree of their asymmetry, support the state of hypervalency of the central atom.