Thorium-nitrogen multiple bonds provide evidence for pushing-from-below for early actinides

Jingzhen Du, Carlos Alvarez-Lamsfus, Elizabeth Wildman, Ashley Wooles, Laurent Maron , Stephen Liddle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although the chemistry of uranium-ligand multiple bonding is burgeoning, analogous complexes involving other actinides such as thorium remain rare and there are not yet any terminal thorium nitrides outside of cryogenic matrix isolation conditions. Here, we report evidence that reduction of a thorium-azide produces a transient Th≡N triple bond, but this activates C-H bonds to produce isolable parent imido derivatives or it can be trapped in an N-heterocycle amine. Computational studies on these thorium-nitrogen multiple bonds consistently evidences a σ > π energy ordering. This suggests pushing-from-below for thorium, where 6p-orbitals principally interact with filled f orbitals raising the σ -bond energy. Previously this was dismissed for thorium, being the preserve of uranium-nitrides or the uranyl dication. Recognising that pushing-from-below perhaps occurs with thorium as well as uranium, and with imido ligands as well as nitrides, suggests this phenomenon may be more widespread than previously thought.
Original languageEnglish
JournalNature Communications
Publication statusPublished - 13 Sept 2019


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