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Molybdenum hexacarbonyl
IUPAC name
CAS number 13939-06-5 Yes check.svgY
Molecular formula C6O6Mo
Molar mass 264.00 g/mol
Appearance white, shiny crystals
Density 1.96 g/cm3
Melting point

150 °C

Boiling point


Solubility in water insoluble
Solubility soluble in benzene, paraffin oil
slightly soluble in ether
Crystal structure orthogonal
Dipole moment 0 D
MSDS External MSDS
EU Index Not listed
Main hazards flammable, CO source
Related compounds
Other cations Chromium hexacarbonyl
Tungsten hexacarbonyl
 Yes check.svgY (what is this?)  (verify)
Except where noted otherwise, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C, 100 kPa)
Infobox references

Molybdenum hexacarbonyl (also called molybdenum carbonyl) is the chemical compound with the formula Mo(CO)6. This colorless solid, like its chromium and tungsten analogues, is noteworthy as a volatile, air-stable derivative of a metal in its zero oxidation state.


Structure and properties

Mo(CO)6 adopts an octahedral geometry consisting of six rod-like CO ligands radiating from the central Mo atom. A recurring minor debate in some chemical circles concerns the definition of an "organometallic" compound. Usually, organometallic indicates the presence of a metal directly bonded via a M-C bond to an organic fragment, which must in turn have a C-H bond. By this strict definition, Mo(CO)6 is not organometallic.


Mo(CO)6 is prepared by the reduction of molybdenum chlorides or oxides under a pressure of carbon monoxide, although it would be unusual to prepare this inexpensive compound in the laboratory. The compound is somewhat air-stable and sparingly soluble in nonpolar organic solvents.


Mo(CO)6 has been detected in landfills and sewage plants, the reducing, anaerobic environment being conducive to formation of Mo(CO)6.[1]

Applications in inorganic and organometallic synthesis

Molybdenum hexacarbonyl is widely used in electron beam-induced deposition technique - it is easily vaporized and decomposed by the electron beam providing a convenient source of molybdenum atoms.[2] Mo(CO)6 is also a popular reagent in organometallic synthesis[3] because one or more CO ligands can be displaced by other donor ligands.[4] For example, Mo(CO)6 reacts with 2,2'-bipyridine to afford Mo(CO)4(bipy). UV-photolysis of a THF solution of Mo(CO)6 gives Mo(CO)5(THF). Many metal carbonyls are similarly photo-activatable.


[Mo(CO)4(piperidine) 2]

The thermal reaction of Mo(CO)6 with piperidine affords Mo(CO)4(piperidine)2. The two piperidine ligands in this yellow-colored compound are labile, which allows other ligands to be introduced under mild conditions. For instance, the reaction of [Mo(CO)4(piperidine)2] with triphenyl phosphine in boiling dichloromethane (b.p. ca. 40 °C) gives cis-[Mo(CO)4(PPh3)2]. This cis- complex isomerizes in toluene to trans-[Mo(CO)4(PPh3)2].


Upon heating in a solution of acetonitrile, Mo(CO)6 converts to its tris(acetonitrile) derivative. The resulting compound serves as a source of "Mo(CO)3". For instance treatment with allyl chloride gives [MoCl(allyl)(CO)2(MeCN)2], whereas treatment with KTp and sodium cyclopentadienide gives [MoTp(CO)3]- and [MoCp(CO)3]- anions. These anions can be reacted with electrophiles to form a wide range of products.[5]

Applications in organic synthesis

Mo(CO)6, [Mo(CO)3(MeCN)3], and related derivatives are employed as catalysts in organic synthesis. For example, these catalysts can be used for alkyne metathesis and the Pauson–Khand reaction.

Safety and handling

Like all metal carbonyls, Mo(CO)6 is dangerous source of volatile metal as well as CO. It diffuses readily into plastic stoppers.


  1. ^ Feldmann, J. (1999). "Determination of Ni(CO)4, Fe(CO)5, Mo(CO)6, and W(CO)6 in sewage gas by using cryotrapping gas chromatography inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry". Journal of Environmental Monitoring 1: 33–37. doi:10.1039/a807277i.  
  2. ^ "Focused, Nanoscale Electron-Beam-Induced Deposition and Etching". Critical Reviews of Solid State and Materials Sciences 31: 55. 2006. doi:10.1080/10408430600930438.  
  3. ^ Faller, J. W. "Hexacarbonylmolybdenum" in Encyclopedia of Reagents for Organic Synthesis (Ed: L. Paquette) 2004, J. Wiley & Sons, New York. doi:10.1002/047084289.
  4. ^
  5. ^ Elschenbroich, C.; Salzer, A. ”Organometallics : A Concise Introduction” (2nd Ed) (1992) Wiley-VCH: Weinheim. ISBN 3-527-28165-7

Further reading

  • Marradi, "Synlett spotlight 119", SYNLETT 2005, No. 7, pp 1195–1196 doi:10.1055/s-2005-865206
  • J. Feldmann, W.R. Cullen, Occurrence of volatile transition metal compounds in landfill gas: synthesis of molybdenum and tungsten carbonyls in the environment, Environ. Sci. Technol. 1997, 31, 2125-2129.
  • J. Feldmann, R. Grümping, A.V. Hirner, Determination of volatile metal and metalloid compounds in gases from domestic waste deposits with GC-ICP-MS, Fresenius J. Anal. Chem., 1994, 350, 228-235.


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