Ate complex

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An ate complex in chemistry is a salt formed by the reaction of a Lewis acid with a Lewis base whereby the central atom (from the Lewis acid) increases its valence and gains a negative formal charge.[1] (Note that in this definition the meaning of valence is equivalent to coordination number). Often in chemical nomenclature the phrase ate is suffixed to the element in question. For example, the ate complex of a boron compound is called a borate. Thus trimethylborane and methyllithium react to form the ate compound Me4BLi+, lithium tetramethylborate(1-). This concept was introduced by Georg Wittig in 1958.[2][3] The term is usually reserved for the complexes of metals in groups 2, 11 and 12.[4]

Ate complexes are the counterparts to onium compounds. Lewis acids form -ate ions when the central atom gains one more bond and becomes a negative anion. Lewis bases form onium ions when the central atom gains one more bond and becomes a positive cation.[5]


  1. ^ Advanced organic Chemistry, Reactions, mechanisms and structure 3ed. Jerry March ISBN 0-471-85472-7
  2. ^ G. Wittig (1958). "Komplexbildung und Reaktivität in der metallorganischen Chemie". Angewandte Chemie. 70 (3): 65. doi:10.1002/ange.19580700302. 
  3. ^ Wittig, Georg (1966). "The role of ate complexes as reaction-determining intermediates". Quarterly Reviews, Chemical Society. 20 (2): 191. doi:10.1039/QR9662000191. 
  4. ^ Encyclopedia of Inorganic Chemistry, 1994, John Wiley and Sons, ISBN 0-471-93620-0
  5. ^ Advanced Organic Chemistry: Reactions and mechanisms, Maya Shankar Singh, 2007, Dorling Kindersley, ISBN 978-81-317-1107-1