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Wilkinson's Catalyst (Molecule of the Month for October 1996)

Rhodium Tris(triphenylphosphine) chloride

Professor Sir Geoffrey Wilkinson, FRS, Nobel Laureate in Chemistry, died on September 26,1996

His work had a wide effect on inorganic chemistry and started the field of organometallic chemistry.

One of his chemical discoveries earned his name, Wilkinson's Catalyst. This organometallic compound activates small organic molecules such that the bond-breaking and bond-formation pathways are readily accessible.

Wilkinson's Catalyst is a rhodium metal complex with three large phosphine ligands coordinated to the metal centre, Rh(PPh3)3Cl. The catalytic chemistry is illustrated in the following animations.

Formal Chemical Name (IUPAC)
Rhodium Tris(triphenylphosphine) chloride

Picture of Wilkinson

click on the picture above to interact
with the 3D model of the
Wilkinson's Catalyst structure
(this will open a new browser window)

Picture of Wilkinson

Rh (PPh3)3 Cl

Update by Karl Harrison
(Molecule of the Month for October 1996 )