The Sceptical Chymist | Element of the month: Cobalt close-up

Published in Chemistry

As we announced in this post, we’ll be posting here some anecdotes or characteristics of the element featured each month in the ‘in your element’ section of the journal.

In our June issue, David Lindsay from the University of Reading and William Kerr from the University of Strathclyde write about cobalt — an element thought to be named after evil sprites (kobold in German) — check out the article to find out why! [subscription required]

But cobalt later went on to show its good side. It is an essential trace element in the human body, found in a group of co-enzymes called cobalamins. Vitamin B12, a cobalamin, features the only naturally occurring organometallic bond that cobalt engages in: a cobalt–carbon bond. B12 is pretty crucial for life as it plays a role in the formation of blood as well as the function of the brain and nervous sytem. Oh, and according to Wikipedia, it also treats cyanide poisoning — a use that is hopefully less in demand.

Find out a variety of catalytic characteristics of organocobalt complexes from Lindsay and Kerr’s essay — including a serendipitous discovery that has led to the well-known Pauson–Khand reaction. That being said, Pauson apparently refers to it as the Khand reaction, however. I wonder how Khand calls it?


Anne Pichon (Associate Editor, Nature Chemistry)

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