Tellurium makes the difference

idw – Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

Nachrichten, Termine, Experten

Grafik: idw-Logo
Thema Corona

idw-Abo
Science Video Project



Share on: 
08/06/2020 15:52

Tellurium makes the difference

Marco Körner Abteilung Hochschulkommunikation/Bereich Presse und Information
Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena

    International research team discovers unusual molecular structures.

    The periodic system contains 118 chemical elements. However, only a few of them, such as hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen, oxygen and silicon, are of major importance in our daily lives. But things become really exciting from a chemical point of view when less well-known elements are involved. An international research group from Germany and Finland discovered astonishing and beautiful molecular structures when, instead of oxygen or sulphur, they used the element tellurium, which has a different weight, in ring-shaped hydrocarbon molecules. These compounds are distinguished by the fact that they are arranged in the crystal to form highly symmetrical tubes that interact with each other via the tellurium atoms.

    Molecular rings are arranged into tubes

    The semiconductor tellurium has similar chemical properties to the ‘related’ elements sulphur and selenium. It is therefore not surprising that the ring-shaped hydrocarbons, into which the team specifically incorporated tellurium atoms, also behave similarly to the corresponding known compounds that contain sulphur or selenium – at least when they are dissolved. Tellurium nevertheless occupies a special position.

    “Something special happens when these substances form crystals,” says Prof. Wolfgang Weigand of Friedrich Schiller University Jena, one of the two corresponding authors of the current publication on this topic. “Virtually infinitely long tubes are then formed, in which the ring-shaped molecules are held together by the tellurium atoms. This happens due to an unusually strong intermolecular interaction. As a result, very interesting structures are created, which we can observe here.” Similar structures are already known in chemistry, for example those called metal-organic frameworks. “In contrast to those, however, our compounds are not coordination polymers,” explains Weigand. “Therefore, they behave differently. This can be seen, for example, in the fact that they only make these supramolecular forms as crystals and not when they are dissolved.” However, initial experimental findings show that atmospheric oxygen can oxidise the tellurium atoms and then link them together to form stacked compounds.

    A new way to store gas?

    The German-Finnish research team has discovered that, due to their special cavities, these tellurium compounds in solid form have an extremely large surface area of nearly 1000 square metres per gram – or around two-and-a-half basketball courts. “It is in principle conceivable that gases, such as carbon dioxide, could be captured in these cavities,” says Wolfgang Weigand. “However, it was important to us first of all to explore and study these exciting compounds.” Further research is needed before practical applications could become possible.

    “This research would not have been possible without the EU’s Erasmus Programme,” adds Jena chemist Weigand. “The idea for this work originally came from my former doctoral candidate, Dr Tobias Niksch, in Jena, and through a stay as a visiting scientist at the University of Oulu in Finland by my former Master’s student, Marko Rodewald, in the group led by Prof. Risto Laitinen. We have had a very good relationship with the university for 15 years and we have frequently published research results together. And the theoretical calculations in this paper were done by one of Risto Laitinen’s former doctoral candidates, who is now doing research at the University of Jyväskylä in Finland. This paper therefore shows how important exchanges and networking are for scientific progress. I’m already looking forward to doing further research on these interesting structures with our Finnish colleagues.”


    Contact for scientific information:

    Prof. Wolfgang Weigand
    Institute for Inorganic and Analytical Chemistry of Friedrich Schiller University Jena
    Humboldtstraße 8
    07743 Jena, Germany
    Tel.: +49 (0)3641 / 948160
    E-mail: wolfgang.weigand[at]uni-jena.de


    Original publication:

    M. Rodewald, J. M. Rautiainen, T. Niksch, H. Görls, R. Oilunkaniemi, W. Weigand, R. S. Laitinen: Chalcogen bonding interactions in telluroether heterocycles [Te(CH2)m]n (n = 1‐4; m = 3‐7), Chemistry – A European Journal (2020). DOI: 10.1002/chem.202002510.


    Criteria of this press release:
    Journalists
    Chemistry
    transregional, national
    Research results
    English


    Professor Dr Wolfgang Weigand shows unusual structures of tellurium compounds.


    For download

    x

    Help

    Search / advanced search of the idw archives
    Combination of search terms

    You can combine search terms with and, or and/or not, e.g. Philo not logy.

    Brackets

    You can use brackets to separate combinations from each other, e.g. (Philo not logy) or (Psycho and logy).

    Phrases

    Coherent groups of words will be located as complete phrases if you put them into quotation marks, e.g. “Federal Republic of Germany”.

    Selection criteria

    You can also use the advanced search without entering search terms. It will then follow the criteria you have selected (e.g. country or subject area).

    If you have not selected any criteria in a given category, the entire category will be searched (e.g. all subject areas or all countries).

    Cookies optimize the use of our services. By surfing on idw-online.de you agree to the use of cookies. Data Confidentiality Statement
    Okay