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Title: Assigning Oxidation States to Organic Compounds via Predictions from X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy: A Discussion of Approaches and Recommended Improvements

The traditional assignment of oxidation numbers to organic molecules is problematic. Accordingly, in 1999, Calzaferri proposed a simple and elegant solution that is based on the similar electronegativities of carbon and hydrogen: hydrogen would be assigned an oxidation number of zero when bonded to carbon. Here we show that X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), a core electron spectroscopy that is sensitive to oxidation states of elements, confirms his suggestion. In particular, in this work we: (i) list the typical rules for assigning oxidation numbers, (ii) discuss the traditional assignment of oxidation numbers to organic molecules, (iii) review Calzaferri’s solution, (iv) introduce X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), (v) show the consistency of Calzaferri’s suggestion with XPS results, (vi) provide supporting examples from the literature, (vii) provide examples from our own research, and (viii) further confirm the Calzaferri suggestion/photoelectron spectroscopy results by discussing two organic well-known reactions. We end by reechoing Calzaferri’s suggestion that the traditional rules for assigning oxidation numbers to organic molecules be modified.
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Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
34739; KP1704020
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Journal of Chemical Education, 91(2):232-238
Research Org:
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), Richland, WA (US), Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory (EMSL)
Sponsoring Org:
Country of Publication:
United States
Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory