Joseph Chatt was the first to discover in the early 1960s that previously unknown transition metal compounds were accessible and isolable via the reactions of alkali metal arene radical anions with transition metal precursors containing good leaving groups, such as weakly basic neutral or anionic ligands, especially halides. Later Peter Timms confirmed the importance of these early studies with the synthesis of several new bis(arene)metal(0) sandwich compounds by a variant of Chatt's route. Following a brief historical survey of alkali metal arene compounds, first examined in some detail by Wilhelm Schlenk, use of these reagents in the conventional syntheses of anionic homoleptic arene metal complexes of the d-block elements will be described. In several cases these species are quite useful because they function as storable "naked" atomic metal anion reagents, especially in their reactions with carbon monoxide and isocyanides. In view of Chatt's seminal contributions to an often unique route to organometallic and inorganic compounds, it is proposed that this valuable synthetic method be named the "Chatt reaction" in honor of a giant of chemistry.
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I sincerely thank Professors Richard Layfield, Polly Arnold, Jenny Green, and Dr Andrew Shore, Editor of Dalton Transactions, for the opportunity to contribute this Perspective. Our research has been supported for more than 45 years by the U.S. National Science Foundation, the Petroleum Research Fund, administered by the American Chemical Society, and Research Gift Support, administered by the University of Minnesota Foundation. Dr Victor G. Young Jr., Director of the X-ray facility, University of Minnesota, is greatly thanked for all of his work in getting the molecular structures depicted herein ready for publication. I am also very thankful to my students, postdocs, and other collaborators, whose names have been mentioned in this perspective and/or in the references. Without their vital contributions, very little of this research would have been possible. Finally, I am indebted to my wife of 53 years, Professor Emeritus Lynda Ellis, PhD, University of Minnesota, for her crucial help in preparation of this manuscript.
© 2019 The Royal Society of Chemistry.