Image of native arsenic crystals

Facts about Arsenic:

  • Arsenic: Solid, dull, toxic, metalloid
  • Fun fact about Arsenic: A toxic element, Arsenic causes heritable changes to DNA such as methylation
  • Chemical symbol: As
  • Atomic number: 33

A crystal structure containing Arsenic:

Image of a divinyl diarsenide with an Arsenic double bond

Facts about this structure:

  • Formula: C68 H86 As2 N4
  • Structure name: 2,2'-[diarsene-1,2-diylbis(phenylmethylylidene)]bis{1,3-bis[2,6-bis(propan-2-yl)phenyl]imidazolidine}
  • Fun fact about the structure: This is one of the first structures of arsenic bound to an alkene (or vinyl) group.
  • CSD refcode: SOWXUA (What's this?)
  • Associated publication: Mahendra K. Sharma, Sebastian Blomeyer, Beate Neumann, Hans-Georg Stammler, Rajendra S. Ghadwal, Chemistry-A European Journal, 2019, 25,  8249, DOI: 10.1002/chem.201901857

More info:

Arsenic has had many uses over the years including medicine (e.g. anticancer therapies), as an insecticide and as a part of pigments. Diarsenes are heavier versions of alkenes with Arsenic double bonds instead. They all show trans geometry (i.e. their other bonds point in opposite directions). Unlike alkenes which contain carbon double bonds, arsenes are extremely reactive and have been notoriously difficult to crystallise and analyse by X-ray crystallography. Despite their comparative stability, these structures are still very reactive with gold chloride, hexachloroethane or diphenyl diselenide.  

Arsenic is one of the oldest and most well-known poisons in the world.  Poisoning occurs when a dangerous amount of Arsenic enters the body. Arsenic is such a well-known poison that it has the nickname "inheritance powder" because it could be slipped into your parents' drink if you wanted their inheritance! Definitely not something we would recommend!!! Some people have even speculated that Arsenic was behind Napoleons death. Arsenic poisoning also features in many movies as well as murder mystery books like the Agatha Christie novels.

More info about the International Year of the Periodic Table (IYPT) in crystals project:

This project (#IYPTCrystals) is part of the International Year of the Periodic Table celebration (#IYPT2019), read more about the project here. You can follow us on social media using #IYPTCrystals and learn more about the wonders of crystals by following the CCDC on Twitter @ccdc_cambridge on Facebook ccdc.cambridge, on Instagram ccdc_cambridge or on YouTube CCDCCambridge.

If you want to find out more about some of the terms and concepts we have a Frequently Asked Questions Page.

A visualisation showing the structure containing Arsenic alongside other structures published in the same scientific article: