A Orchard
Oxford: OUP 2003 | Pp 176 | ?9.99 | ISBN 0198792786
Reviewed by Charles Harding

A short introductory text on magnetochemistry is long overdue. This one starts conventionally with an account of bulk magnetism, and briefly its measurement. The pace increases quickly to deal with electronic structure, with emphasis on the semi-classical vector model. As promised in the preface, magnetism is not easy, and the subject offers little opportunity to pull punches. But here the rewards are considerable as the author brings rare insight to a conceptually difficult subject. This vein is continued in the application of the vector model to the various forms of bulk magnetism.

The second half of the book concerns paramagnetism. Firstly, the wide applicability of the semi-classical model is again demonstrated, in this case to atomic systems, with a focus on the lanthanide elements. The most extensive chapter, on transition elements, provides a survey of the main aspects of their magnetic and, occasionally, EPR spectral properties, drawing prolifically from examples of simple molecular and solid state systems. It includes, as a substantial bonus, a lucid account of ligand-field theory.

Magnetochemistry runs to twice the length of its companion Oxford Chemistry Primers, and yet I am tempted to plead for more. As an account reflecting trends in the subject, it lacks mention of cluster complexes, and the one- and two-dimensional structures that, for intrinsic and technological reasons, are currently the main direction of molecular magnetism. For the student, each chapter provides a set of exercises ranging from simple to challenging; worked answers would be invaluable.

It is impossible to resist comment on the appearance of the book. Each margin contains several notes. These are often fascinating, but I feel sometimes tend to detract from the flow of the argument. Choice of symbolism is not always conventional. But these are minor criticisms of a book which is worth a student’s investment for the theoretical background alone.