Ruthenium(III) chloride is the chemical compound with the formula RuCl3. "Ruthenium(III) chloride" more commonly refers to the hydrate RuCl3·xH2O. Both the anhydrous and hydrated species are dark brown or black solids. The hydrate, with a varying proportion of water of crystallization, often approximating to a trihydrate, is a commonly used starting material in ruthenium chemistry.
Preparation and properties
The anhydrous forms of ruthenium(III) chloride are well characterized but rarely used. Crystalline material is usually prepared by heating powdered ruthenium metal to 700 °C under a 4:1 mixture of chlorine and carbon monoxide: the product is carried by the gas stream and crystallises upon cooling. RuCl3 exists is two crystalline modifications. The black α-form adopts the CrCl3-type structure with long Ru-Ru contacts of 346 pm. The dark brown metastable β-form crystallizes in a hexagonal cell; this form consists of infinite chains of face-sharing octahedra with Ru-Ru contacts of 283 pm. The β-form is irreversibly converted to the α-form at 450–600 °C.
As the most commonly available ruthenium compound, RuCl3·xH2O is the precursor to many hundreds of chemical compounds. The noteworthy property of ruthenium complexes, chlorides and otherwise, is the existence of more than one oxidation state, several of which are kinetically inert. All second and third-row transition metals form exclusively low spin complexes, whereas ruthenium is special in the stability of adjacent oxidation states, especially Ru(II), Ru(III) (as in the parent RuCl3·xH2O) and Ru(IV).
Illustrative complexes derived from "ruthenium trichloride"
- RuCl2(PPh3)3, a chocolate-colored, benzene-soluble species, which in turn is also a versatile starting material. It arises approximately as follows:
- 2RuCl3·xH2O + 7 PPh3 → 2 RuCl2(PPh3)3 + OPPh3 + 5 H2O + 2 HCl
- [RuCl2(C6H6)]2, also chocolate brown, poorly soluble complex of benzene, arising from 1,3-cyclohexadiene as follows:
- 2 RuCl3·xH2O + 2 C6H8 → [RuCl2(C6H6)]2 + 6 H2O + 2 HCl + H2
The benzene ligand can be exchanged with other arenes such as hexamethylbenzene.
- RuCl3·xH2O + 3 bipy + 0.5 CH3CH2OH → [Ru(bipy)3]Cl2 + 3 H2O + 0.5 CH3CHO + HCl
This reaction proceeds via the intermediate cis-Ru(bipy)2Cl2.
- 2 RuCl3·xH2O + 2 C5Me5H → [RuCl2(C5Me5)]2 + 6 H2O + 2 HCl
[RuCl2(C5Me5)]2 can be further reduced to [RuCl(C5Me5)]4.
- Ru(C5H7O2)3, a red, benzene-soluble coordination complex arising as follows:RuCl3·xH2O + 3 C5H8O2 → Ru(C5H7O2)3 + 3 H2O + 3 HCl
- RuO4, an orange CCl4-soluble oxidant with a tetrahedral structure, which is of some interest in organic synthesis.
Some of these compounds were utilized in the research related to two recent Nobel Prizes. Noyori was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2001 for the development of practical asymmetric hydrogenation catalysts based on ruthenium. Robert H. Grubbs was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2005 for the development of practical alkene metathesis catalysts based on ruthenium alkylidene derivatives.
Carbon monoxide derivatives
RuCl3(H2O)x reacts with carbon monoxide under mild conditions. In contrast, iron chlorides do not react with CO. CO reduces the red-brown trichloride to yellowish Ru(II) species. Specifically, exposure of an ethanol solution of RuCl3(H2O)x to 1 atm of CO gives, depending on the specific conditions, [Ru2Cl4(CO)4], [Ru2Cl4(CO)4]2-, and [RuCl3(CO)3]-. Addition of ligands (L) to such solutions gives Ru-Cl-CO-L compounds (L = PR3). Reduction of these carbonylated solutions with Zn affords the orange triangular cluster [Ru3(CO)12].
- 3 RuCl3·xH2O + 4.5 Zn + 12 CO (high pressure) → Ru3(CO)12 + 3x H2O + 4.5 ZnCl2
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