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Question 22

Discuss the nature of bonding in metal carbonyls.


The metal-carbon bonds in metal carbonyls have both σ and π characters. A σ bond is formed when the carbonyl carbon donates a lone pair of electrons to the vacant orbital of the metal. A π bond is formed by the donation of a pair of electrons from the filled metal d orbital into the vacant anti-bonding π orbital (also known as back bonding of the carbonyl group). The σ bond strengthens the π bond and vice-versa. Thus, a synergic effect is created due to this metal-ligand bonding. This synergic effect strengthens the bond between CO and the metal.

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