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Comparison of Covalency in the Complexes of Trivalent Actinide and Lanthanide Cations

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journal contribution
posted on 25.07.2002 by Mark P. Jensen, Andrew H. Bond
The complexes of trivalent actinide (Am(III) and Cm(III)) and lanthanide (Nd(III) and Sm(III)) cations with bis(2,4,4-trimethylpentyl)phosphinic acid, bis(2,4,4-trimethylpentyl)monothiophosphinic acid, and bis(2,4,4-trimethylpentyl)dithiophosphinic acid in n-dodecane have been studied by visible absorption spectroscopy and X-ray absorption fine structure (XAFS) measurements in order to understand the chemical interactions responsible for the great selectivity the dithiophosphinate ligand exhibits for trivalent actinide cations in liquid−liquid extraction. Under the conditions studied, each type of ligand displays a different coordination mode with trivalent f-element cations. The phosphinate ligand coordinates as hydrogen-bonded dimers, forming M(HL2)3. Both the oxygen and the sulfur donor of the monothiophosphinate ligand can bind the cations, affording both bidentate and monodentate ligands. The dithiophosphinate ligand forms neutral bidentate complexes, ML3, with no discernible nitrate or water molecules in the inner coordination sphere. Comparison of the Cm(III), Nd(III), and Sm(III) XAFS shows that the structure and metal−donor atom bond distances are indistinguishable within experimental error for similarly sized trivalent lanthanide and actinide cations, despite the selectivity of bis(2,4,4-trimethylpentyl)dithiophosphinic acid for trivalent actinide cations over trivalent lanthanide cations.