Inorganic Molecular Dissymmetry

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As early as 1874 van't Hoff and Le Bel introduced the concept of antipodes for molecules containing an asymmetric carbon atom. This was the first insight into the spacial arrangement of atoms in a mole- cule. These antipodes exhibit opposite optical rotatory power, but it was not possible to determine specific configuration and direction of the rotatory power. The convention of Fischer, however, gained general acceptance. Eighty years later Bijvoet and his co-workers showed that the Fischer convention happens to be in agreement with reality (I 951). Organic stereochemistry is that of tetrahedral carbon atoms, while stereochemistry of co-ordination compounds mainly concerns octahedrally co-ordinated metal atoms. The stereochemistry of octa- hedrons was founded by Werner. In his magnum opus, Neuere Anschauungen auf dem Gebiete der anorganischen Chemie, are sum- marised his highlights on optical isomerism, beginning with the third edition published in 1913. After about forty years, the author and his co-workers determined the absolute configuration of the tris( ethyl- enediamine )cobaJt(III) ion. Thus an absolute basis was given to dis- cuss the-optical activity and molecular structure of co-ordination compounds. This book deals with the absolute stereochemistry of transition- metal complexes, the charge-density distribution in them and their circular dichroism spectra. The book is directed to students of inor- ganic chemistry and to others seeking a general impression of the recent advances in the field.