A guide to chalcogen-nitrogen chemistry

A guide to chalcogen-nitrogen chemistry 

Tristram Chivers 

London, UK: World Scientific Publishing | 2006 | 340pp | ?52.00 (HB) | ISBN 9789812560957 

Reviewed by Paul Kelly

It is as far back as 1835 that reports of the preparation of a binary sulfur nitride (S4N4) first appeared; subsequent years saw the heavier chalcogens selenium and tellurium get in on the act and by the time of the discovery of the superconducting properties of polymeric (SN)x in the 1970s, the area had matured into one of the most vibrant in the Main Group canon. That these foundations have been steadily built upon since then shows just how much the area still has to offer. The fact that the author has been one of the key architects of recent developments means he is ideally placed to provide a much needed comprehensive overview of the area.  

While, strictly speaking, the chemistry of nitrogen oxo species falls under the remit of the book’s title, it is the contrasts between the latter compounds and those containing heavier Group 16 elements that are highlighted here. This is a sensible course of action on the author’s part - after all, information on N-O species is already readily available thanks to the ubiquitous nature of many of them, and concentrating on the heavier congeners allows the bewildering structural and chemical diversity of the latter to be highlighted. In order to achieve this, the work is ordered into 15 chapters delineated primarily by substituent type but also including general sections on synthesis, characterisation and reactivity. 

Comprehensively referenced, well illustrated, thoughtfully structured and readable, this will undoubtedly remain the standard work in this area for years to come. While clearly the area is fairly specialist, the fact that the work alludes to compounds with important electronic, magnetic, biological and physical properties means that there will be something here to inspire all research chemists. All chemistry libraries will be the richer for its acquisition.