|Jmol-3D images||Image 1|
|Molar mass||169.29 g mol−1|
|Density||4.32 g/cm3, solid|
128.6 °C 
|Solubility in water||25 g/l (0 °C)|
|Vapor pressure||6.0×102 Pa|
|Crystal structure||parallel linear XeF2 units|
|Dipole moment||0 D|
|Std enthalpy of
|Main hazards||Corrosive to exposed tissues. Releases toxic compounds on contact with moisture.|
|Other anions||Xenon dichloride|
|Other cations||Krypton difluoride
|Related compounds||Xenon tetrafluoride
| (what is: / ?)
Except where noted otherwise, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C, 100 kPa)
Xenon difluoride is a powerful fluorinating agent with the chemical formula XeF
2, and one of the most stable xenon compounds. Like most covalent inorganic fluorides it is moisture-sensitive. It decomposes on contact with light or (slowly) water vapour. Xenon difluoride is a dense, white crystalline solid. It has a nauseating odour and low vapor pressure.
Xenon difluoride is a linear molecule with an Xe–F bond length of 197.73±0.15 pm in the vapour stage, and 200 pm in the solid phase. The packing arrangement in solid XeF
2 shows that the fluorine atoms of neighbouring molecules avoid the equatorial region of each XeF
2 molecule. This agrees with the prediction of VSEPR theory, which predicts that there are 3 pairs of non-bonding electrons around the equatorial region of the xenon atom.
At high pressures, novel, non-molecular forms of xenon difluoride can be obtained. Under a pressure of ~50 GPa, XeF
2 transforms into a semiconductor consisting of XeF
4 units linked in a two-dimensional structure, like graphite. At even higher pressures, above 70 GPa, it becomes metallic, forming a three-dimensional structure containing XeF
8 units. However, a recent theoretical study has put these experimental results in doubt.
Synthesis proceeds by the simple reaction:
- Xe + F2 → XeF2
The reaction requires heat, irradiation, or an electrical discharge. The product is gaseous, but can be condensed at −30 °C. It is purified by fractional distillation or selective condensation using a vacuum line.
The first published report of XeF2 was in October 1962 by Chernick, et al. However, though published later, XeF2 was probably first created by Rudolf Hoppe at the University of Münster, Germany, in early 1962, by reacting fluorine and xenon gas mixtures in an electrical discharge. Shortly after these reports, Weeks, Cherwick, and Matheson of Argonne National Laboratory reported the synthesis of XeF2 using an all-nickel system with transparent alumina windows, in which equal parts Xe and F2 gases react at low pressure upon irradiation by an ultraviolet source to give XeF2. Williamson reported that the reaction works equally well at atmospheric pressure in a dry Pyrex glass bulb using sunlight as a source. It was noted that the synthesis worked even on cloudy days.
In the previous syntheses the F2 reactant had been purified to remove HF. Šmalc and Lutar found that if this step is skipped the reaction rate actually proceeds at four times the original rate.
Xenon difluoride (XeF2) is most easily made directly from xenon and fluorine. An evacuated glass container of fluorine and xenon is exposed to daylight. The usual precautions associated with use of F2 are required: grease-free, preferably fluorine passivated metal system or very dry glassware. Air must be excluded to preclude formation of xenon trioxide, an explosive (this is only true if the XeF2 sample contains XeF6 which hydrolyzes to xenon trioxide).
Derived xenon compounds
Other xenon compounds may be derived from xenon difluoride. The unstable organoxenon compound Xe(CF
2 can be made by irradiating hexafluoroethane to generate CF·
3 radicals and passing the gas over XeF
2. The resulting waxy white solid decomposes completely within 4 hours at room temperature.
The XeF+ cation is formed by combining xenon difluoride with a strong fluoride acceptor, such as an excess of liquid antimony pentafluoride (SbF
2 + SbF
5 → XeF+
Adding xenon gas to this pale yellow solution at a pressure of 2-3 atm produces a green solution containing the paramagnetic Xe+
2 ion, which contains a Xe−Xe bond: ("apf" denotes solution in liquid SbF
- 3 Xe (g) + XeF+
(apf) + SbF
5 (l) 2 Xe+
2 (apf) + SbF−
This reaction is reversible; removing xenon gas from the solution causes the Xe+
2 ion to revert to xenon gas and XeF+
, and the color of the solution returns to a pale yellow.
In the presence of liquid HF, dark green crystals can be precipitated from the green solution at −30°C:
2 (apf) + 4 SbF−
6 (apf) → Xe+
21 (s) + 3 F−
X-ray crystallography indicates that the Xe-Xe bond length in this compound is 309 pm, indicating a very weak bond. The Xe+
2 ion is isoelectronic with the I−
2 ion, which is also dark green.
- Mg(AsF6)2 + 4 XeF2 → [Mg(XeF2)4](AsF6)2
Crystallographic analysis shows that the magnesium atom is coordinated to 6 fluorine atoms. Four of the fluorines are attributed to the four xenon difluoride ligands while the other two are a pair of cis-AsF−
A similar reaction is:
- Mg(AsF6)2 + 2 XeF2 → [Mg(XeF2)2](AsF6)2
In the crystal structure of this product the magnesium atom is octahedrally-coordinated and the XeF2 ligands are axial while the AsF−
6 ligands are equatorial.
Many such reactions with products of the form [Mx(XeF2)n](AF6)x have been observed, where M can be Ca, Sr, Ba, Pb, Ag, La, or Nd and A can be As, Sb or P.
Recently, a compound was synthesised where a metal atom was coordinated solely by XeF2 fluorine atoms:
- 2 Ca(AsF6 )2 + 9 XeF2 → Ca2(XeF2)9(AsF6)4.
This reaction requires a large excess of xenon difluoride. The structure of the salt is such that half of the Ca2+ ions are coordinated by fluorine atoms from xenon difluoride, while the other Ca2+ ions are coordinated by both XeF2 and AsF−
As a fluorinating agent
Among the fluorination reactions that xenon difluoride undergoes are:
- Oxidative fluorination:
- Ph3TeF + XeF2 → Ph3TeF3 + Xe
- Reductive fluorination:
- 2 CrO2F2 + XeF2 → 2 CrOF3 + Xe +O2
- Aromatic fluorination:
- Alkene fluorination:
2 is selective about which atom it fluorinates, making it a useful reagent for fluorinating heteroatoms without touching other substituents in organic compounds. For example, it fluorinates the arsenic atom in trimethylarsine, but leaves the methyl groups untouched:
3As + XeF
2 → (CH
2 + Xe
- RCOOH + XeF2 → RF + CO2 + Xe + HF
As an etchant
Xenon difluoride is also used as an isotropic gaseous etchant for silicon, particularly in the production of microelectromechanical systems, (MEMS). Brazzle, Dokmeci, et al., describe this process:
The mechanism of the etch is as follows. First, the XeF2 adsorbs and dissociates to xenon (Xe) and fluorine (F) on the surface of silicon. Fluorine is the main etchant in the silicon etching process. The reaction describing the silicon with XeF2 is
- 2 XeF2 + Si → 2 Xe + SiF4
XeF2 has a relatively high etch rate and does not require ion bombardment or external energy sources in order to etch silicon.
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