66922 - Coordination Chemistry with Laboratory

Course Unit Page


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Quality education Affordable and clean energy Responsible consumption and production

Academic Year 2020/2021

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course, the student has acquired knowledge on the chemistry of coordination compounds and their properties as well as the principal laboratory methodologies for the synthesis and characterisation of coordination compounds.

Course contents

Prerequisites:  the student attending this course needs to have the basic concepts of general and inorganic chemistry as well as stoichiometry. The student needs to have knowledge and experimental skills on the procedures to be adopted in a chemistry laboratory. A general chemistry course is required to attend this course.

Attendance to laboratory experiments (2CFU) is mandatory.


Coordination compounds: mono- and polydentate ligands, macrocyclic ligands; coordination sphere; coordination number (factors which determine it) and corresponding geometry of the compound; isomerism and chirality; nomenclature. Synthesis and stability (chelate and template effect), coordination equilibria and diagram of species distribution.

Crystal Field Theory (CFT) for an octahedral, tetrahedral and square planar ligand field. Factors which determine the d orbital separation, spectrochemical series, stabilization energy. Interpretation according to CFT theory of: absorption spectra, magnetic properties (paramagnetic, diamagnetic, ferromagnetic and antiferromagnetic compounds), and periodic properties (crystal energy, ion dimension for octahedral complexes, hydration energy). Jahn-Teller effect: tetragonal distorsion of Cu(II) complex, splitting of absorption bands. Pros and Cons of CFT theory.

Molecular Orbital Theory (MOT): criteria for orbital combination. Sigma and pi interactions. Rationalization of the spectrochemical series. Classification of electronic transitions and their principal properties (energy, intensity and shape).

Reactions of coordination compounds: (a) ligand substitution by associative, dissociative, or interchange mechanism and definition of labile and inert compounds; (b) rearrangement; (c) reaction on the coordinated ligands; (d) electron transfer processes with brief discussion of the Marcus theory.

Brief discussions on most recent applications of coordination compounds in the fields of medicine and nanotechnology.

Organometallic compounds: definition and exceptions to the definition. 18-electron rule. Synergic bond: donation and retrodonation. Examples of the main classes of compounds.

Laboratory experimental work involving: (a) synthesis of gold nanoparticles and transition metal complexes; (b) analysis of the chemical-physical properties (by IR, UV/VIS spectroscopy, magnetic susceptibility  by Evans balance) and reactivity of the previously synthesized complexes.


Lecture notes on the teacher web site

G. Rayner-Canham, T. Overton, Descriptive Inorganic Chemistry, VI edizione inglese, ISBN-10: 1464125570

P. Atkins, T. Overton, J. Rourke, M. Weller, F. Armstrong, Inorganic Chemistry, Zanichelli, V English edition.

Teaching methods

The course comprise: lectures (2 CFU), exercises (1 CFU) and laboratory experiments (2 CFU).

Lectures describe the principal theories to explain the formation and the properties of coordination compounds.

Exercises are about molecular models and geometry, isomerism, as well as stoichiometry to prepare the laboratory experiments.

For laboratory experiments, the students will be divided in two parts, one supervised by Prof. Simone D'Agostino and the other by Prof. Giacomo Bergamini. The laboratory part  consist of experiments of ca. 4 hours per each laboratory day, in which the student will learn the principal synthetic procedure and characterization techniques of coordination compounds. Attendance of the laboratory is compulsory. The students must complete on-line tests before each laboratory experience and write a brief report at the end of each laboratory experiment. The reports have to be uploaded on-line within the deadline reported on-line and communicated by the professor.

Assessment methods

Written test and oral examination. Evaluation of the work in the laboratory and the corresponding on-line tests and laboratory reports (grades reported on-line for each student) will be taken into account for the final grade.

The written and oral examination will ascertain that the student had acquired knowledge of the theoretical as well as experimental skills described above, both theoretical basis and experimental parts.

In case the oral examination is not sufficient, the student will  need to perform another written text.

The examination can be undertaken only by students who had already passed the examination of Fondamenti di Chimica con laboratorio (I year).

Teaching tools

Video projector and blackboard for lectures.

On-line tests will be prepared for each laboratory experiment in order to test the knowledge of the student on the laboratory safety rules and on the most important and most critical procedures of each experiment.

In the laboratory the prepared species are characterized by means of FT-IR, UV, VIS spectroscopy, magnetic susceptibility measurements, and conventional analytical techniques.

Office hours

See the website of Paola Ceroni

See the website of Simone D'Agostino

See the website of Andrea Fermi