Monash chemists drive birth of a new field of chemistry

In a scientific world-first, work by Monash chemists has paved the way for the birth of a completely new field of chemistry.

The work, led by Professor Cameron Jones from the School of Chemistry, was published today in the prestigious journal Nature Communications.

The research focuses on aluminium analogues of boron hydride cluster compounds, which have been the cornerstone of inorganic chemistry for more than 50 years.

They have numerous applications in nuclear medicine, as rocket fuels and in chemical synthesis.

Crystal structure of the first stable aluminium hydride cluster, Al6H6, coordinated by stabilising ions. Image credit: Cameron Jones

“Stable aluminium hydride analogues of such compounds have remained elusive to chemists, which is surprising as aluminium is directly beneath boron in the periodic table,” said lead study author Professor Jones, who is also a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science.

“We have now prepared the first aluminium hydride clusters, a completely new compound class which has many potential applications in, for example, materials science and microelectronics,” he said.

While the study findings are largely fundamental, they are likely to have future applications in materials science and microelectronics.

While boron hydride cluster compounds have found application in a number of diverse fields, the isolation of stable aluminium analogues remains highly challenging.

“We have demonstrated that stable aluminium hydride clusters containing metal-metal bonds can be accessed, and have remarkable electronic properties,” Professor Jones said.

“The research is significant because for the first time we have been able to show that low oxidation state aluminium hydride clusters can be prepared and studied at room temperature,” he said.

“What this means is the birth of a completely new field of chemistry, which will have significant future implications for inorganic chemists.”

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