Group 2 organometallic chemistry

The group 2 elements are known to form organometallic compounds.[2][3] Of these, organomagnesium compounds, usually in the form of Grignard reagents are widely used in organic chemistry, while the other organometallic compounds of this group are largely academic.


In many ways the chemistry of group 2 elements (the alkaline earth metals) mimics that of group 12 elements because both groups have filled s shells for valence electrons. Thus, both groups have nominal valency 2 and oxidation state +2. All group 2 elements are electropositive towards carbon and electronegativity decreases down the row. At the same time the atomic radius increases resulting in increasingly ionic character, higher coordination numbers, and increased ligand reactivity.

Many dialkyl group 2 metals are polymeric in the crystalline phase and resemble trimethylaluminium in three-center two-electron bond. In the gas-phase they are once again monomeric.

The metallocenes in this group are unusual. Bis(cyclopentadienyl)beryllium or beryllocene (Cp2Be) with a molecular dipole moment of 2.2 D rules out a classical metallocene with two hapticity 5 ligands. Instead the compound is a so-called slip 5η/1η sandwich and on top of that also fluxional up to −125 °C. While magnesocene (Cp2Mg) is a regular metallocene, bis(pentamethylcyclopentadienyl)calcium (Cp*)2Ca is actually bent with an angle of 147°. This angle increases going down the row.

Low-valent organometallics with formal oxidation state 1 having a metal to metal bond are also known.[4] A representative is LMg-MgL with L = [(Ar)NC(NPri2)N(Ar)].[5]


The mixed alkyl/aryl-halide compounds are typically prepared by oxidative addition. The iconic products of such reactions are the Grignard reagents. An analogous reaction proceeds with calcium but the metal must be specially activated.[8]

Three important ways to synthesize dialkyl and diaryl group 2 metal compounds are

MX2 + R-Y MR2 + Y-X'
M'R2 + M MR2 + M'
2 RMX MR2 + MX2

See for example the formation of dimethylmagnesium.


Although organomagnesium compounds are widespread in the form of Grignard reagents, the other organo-group 2 compound are almost exclusively of academic interest. Organoberyllium chemistry is limited due to the cost and toxicity of beryllium. Further down this group calcium is nontoxic and cheap but organocalcium compounds are difficult to prepare as are the organic derivatives of strontium and barium. One use for this type of compounds is in chemical vapor deposition.


Beryllium derivatives and reagents are often prepared by alkylation of beryllium chloride.[9] Examples of known organoberyllium compounds are dineopentylberyllium,[10] beryllocene (Cp2Be),[11][12][13][14] diallylberyllium (by exchange reaction of diethyl beryllium with triallyl boron),[15] bis(1,3-trimethylsilylallyl)beryllium [16] and Be(mes)2.[9][17] Ligands can also be aryls[18] and alkynyls.[19]


The formation of alkyl or aryl magnesium halides (RMgX) from magnesium metal and an alkyl halide is proceeds via a SET process. Examples of Grignard reagents are phenylmagnesium bromide and ethylmagnesium bromide.

Beyond Grignard reagents, another organomagnesium compound is magnesium anthracene. This orange solid is used as a source of highly active magnesium. Butadiene magnesium serves as a source for the butadiene dianion.


Dimethylcalcium, one of the simplest organocalcium compounds, is obtained by metathesis reaction of calcium bis(trimethylsilyl)amide and methyllithium in diethyl ether:[20]

A well known organocalcium compound is (Cp)calcium(I). Bis(allyl)calcium was described in 2009.[21] It forms in a metathesis reaction of allylpotassium and calcium iodide as a stable non-pyrophoric off-white powder:

The bonding mode is η3. This compound is also reported to give access to an η1 polymeric (CaCH2CHCH2)n compound.[22]

The compound [(thf)3Ca{μ-C6H3-1,3,5-Ph3}Ca(thf)3] also described in 2009[23][24] is an inverse sandwich compound with two calcium atoms at either side of an arene.

Olefins tethered to cyclopentadienyl ligands have been shown to coordinate to calcium(II), strontium(II), and barium(II):[25]

Organocalcium compounds are investigated as catalysts.[26][27][28][29][30]


Organostrontium compounds have been reported as intermediates in Barbier-type reactions.[31][32][33]


Organobarium compounds[34] of the type (allyl)BaCl can be prepared by reaction of activated barium (Rieke method reduction of barium iodide with lithium biphenylide) with allyl halides.[35][36] These allylbarium compounds react with carbonyl compounds. Such reagents are more alpha-selective and more stereoselective than the related Grignards or organocalcium compounds. The metallocene (Cp*)2Ba has also been reported.[37]


The only known organoradium compound is the gas-phase acetylide.

See also


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  5. Green, S. P.; Jones, C.; Stasch, A. (2007). "Stable Magnesium(I) Compounds with Mg-Mg Bonds". Science. 318 (5857): 1754–7. Bibcode:2007Sci...318.1754G. doi:10.1126/science.1150856. PMID 17991827.
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  8. Reuben D. Rieke, Tse-Chong Wu, Loretta I. Rieke (1995). "Highly Reactive Calcium for the Preparation of Organocalcium Reagents: 1-Adamantyl Calcium Halides and Their Addition to Ketones: 1-(1-Adamantyl)cyclohexanol". Org. Synth. 72: 147. doi:10.15227/orgsyn.072.0147.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  9. Off the Beaten Track—A Hitchhiker's Guide to Beryllium Chemistry D. Naglav, M. R. Buchner, G. Bendt, F. Kraus, S. Schulz, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2016, 55, 10562. doi:10.1002/anie.201601809
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  17. Synthesis and structural characterization of the beryllium compounds [Be(2,4,6-Me3C6H2)2(OEt2)], [Be{O(2,4,6-tert-Bu3C6H2)}2(OEt2)], and [Be{S(2,4,6-tert-Bu3C6H2)}2(THF)].cntdot.PhMe and determination of the structure of [BeCl2(OEt2)2] Karin Ruhlandt-Senge, Ruth A. Bartlett, Marilyn M. Olmstead, and Philip P. Power Inorganic Chemistry 1993 32 (9), 1724-1728 doi:10.1021/ic00061a031
  18. Ruhlandt-Senge, Karin; Bartlett, Ruth A.; Olmstead, Marilyn M.; Power, Philip P. (1993). "Synthesis and structural characterization of the beryllium compounds [Be(2,4,6-Me3C6H2)2(OEt2)], [Be{O(2,4,6-tert-Bu3C6H2)}2(OEt2)], and [Be{S(2,4,6-tert-Bu3C6H2)}2(THF)].cntdot.PhMe and determination of the structure of [BeCl2(OEt2)2]". Inorganic Chemistry. 32: 1724. doi:10.1021/ic00061a031.
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