The chemistry of molecules with metal-carbon bonds has continued to expand rapidly since Comprehensive Organometallic Chemistry (COMC-I) was published in 1982. Comprehensive Organometallic Chemistry II (COMC-II) updates the literature up to 1994. This new collection retains the previous overall structure, but certain sections have been expanded to reflect the changes in direction the field has taken in the past ten years. Thus the latest collection is of epic proportions, consisting of 14 volumes.
The editors-in-chief, Edward W. Abel, F. Gordon A. Stone and Geoffrey Wilkinson, deserve much credit for enlisting the support of 16 volume editors responsible for recruiting the 170 contributing authors writing a total of 124 chapters. The volume editors have done a marvellous job in persuading so many of the world's leading organometallic chemists to contribute chapters. The authors constitute an international FM divided approximately as follows: Europe (43 per cent), North America (46 per cent), Australia (5 per cent) and Asia (5 per cent).
The chemistry is described in 12 volumes; the other two volumes contain the cumulative indexes. Each volume has a common feel and style. The illustrations are excellent, although occasionally the stereo-chemistry on some drawings was not very clear or absent. The chapters give thorough and definitive reviews of their subject areas and each author has been given sufficient space for discussion, punctuatedd by clear schemes and good-size illustrations. This has prevented the chapters from degenerating into a succession of tabular data. The volumes are very inviting and encourage browsing.
The first covers tile organometallic chemistry of elements in group 1, II and XE. Chapters are devoted to the chemistry of the alkali metals, alkaline earth (except beryllium) and the group Ill elements. Both beryllium and aluminium get their own chapters. The chemistry of boron gets die greatest coverage with five chapters.
In the chapter on beryllium the author bemoans the dramatic drop in the growth of the number of Synthetic and structural papers containing organoberyllium compounds. Interestingly, he links this to the fact that beryllium is now cited in the Guinness Book of Records as the most toxic nonradioactive element.
Volume two contains descriptions of the vast amount of research in both industry and academia on organosilicon chemistry, and chapters on germanium, tin, lead and the organometallic chemistry of arsenic, antimony and bismuth.
Although the smallest volume, volume three contains some fascinating chemistry, reviewing the literature of the noble metals and the B-metals, that is, elements in groups XI and XII. A. Grohmann and H. Schmidbaur write that "the chemistry of gold is no longer the Sleeping Beauty of the precious metals". In fact, the current inventory of research both in terms of new gold compounds and applications is very diverse.
The literature for elements in groups III-X is reviewed on volumes four to nine. Within these volumes elements are grouped together in a chemically sensible way. Volume four collects together the organometallic chemistry of group IV elements and also the lanthanides and actinides including scandium and yttrium. The volume editor and the contributing authors had the unenviable job of reviewing an enormous amount of literature. They decided to split the task by having separate chapters on group IV elements according to oxidation state groupings. This, of course, seems to be a sensible and very traditional way of classifying chemistry. However, readers may find it rather difficult to find certain sections initially. For example, the n-cycloheptadienyl chemistry of titanium is found in the chapter on "Titanium complexes in oxidation state +2 and +Y. In the other volumes the chemistry is classified more usefully according to ligand type.
Volumes five, six and seven span die elements in groups V-VIII. The subject areas all well covered here, and on quick inspection all the key points and compounds seem properly covered.
Volume eight is devoted to group IX elements, with a separate chapter on cluster complexes of these elements, whereas volumes ten, 11 and 12 are devoted to special topics of current interest: "Heteronuclear metal-metal bonds", 'Main-group organometallics in organic synthesis and "Transition metal organometallics in organic synthesis". Volume ten does not mention material covered by the chapter on cluster complexes in volume nine.
Volume 12 comprehensively illustrates the diversity of applications that organometallic compounds can make to synthetic organic chemistry. It is by far the largest volume, with contributions from 40 international authors. L. S. Hegedus's simple and straightforward introduction to organometallic chemistry for the nonexpert is nicely done and I recommend it to all our organic colleagues.
In a work of this magnitude the indexing and cross-referencing is of paramount importance. All the volumes contain individual author and subject indices. The author index incorporates an innovative feature: all authors mentioned in the text and in any of the cited references are indexed. This greatly improves one's ability to-find particular articles and also neatly summarises the work of key research in the subject area. The indices were also prefaced by a short introduction that describes the scope, coverage and strategies used in its compilation.
Volume 13 is a compendium of the structures of all compounds containing a metal-carbon bond that have been determined by electron, neutron or X-ray diffraction.
This is the only part of the whole work that attempts to include all organometallic work including COMC-I and as such includes 40,000 species and more than 36,000 citations. The literature until mid-1993 is covered, with the earliest citation claimed to be the structure of Fe2(C0)g in 19. M. I. Bruce has done a fantastic job compiling this data into a systematic and easy-to-access series of tables, classified first by elements and then by number of elements in the structure.
Volume 14 contains the cumulative formula and subject indices, both of which are excellent, with the former being particularly useful. It would be a good addition to include this sort of index at the end of each volume. I was surprised that these two volumes were not-also available on CD-ROM.
Everyone concerned deserves enormous credit for this magnificent enterprise. All science libraries should have this collection. In this era of on-line databases, there is still a lasting need for a work of this type.
Dermot O'Hare is a lecturer in inorganic chemistry, University of Oxford.
Comprehensive Organometallic Chemistry II: A Review of the Literature 1982-94
Editor - Edward W. Abel, F. Gordon A. Stone and Geoffrey Wilkinson
ISBN - 0 08 040608 4
Publisher - Pergamon Press
Price - £2,795.00 (14 volumes)