A letter about ‘Neon behind the signs’

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Editor’s note: Earlier this year our ‘In your element’ section featured an article about neon written by Felice Grandinetti from the University of Tuscia (you can also find a write-up here by yours truly). We recently received a letter from Roald Hoffmann from Cornell University, which we are publishing here on the blog, with a reply from Felice Grandinetti. Feel free to add your own thoughts in the comments section below.


To the Editor:

Felice Grandinetti’s comment on the singularity of supremely inert Ne, and his suggestion of having He head group 2 of Mendeleyev’s Table are on the mark1. But he should have mentioned the people who suggested that before him — Henry Bent2 and Eric Scerri3 have argued over the years for this placement. And Wojciech Grochala likewise, supporting his argument with detailed quantum mechanical calculations on diverse He and Ne containing molecules4,5. Their well-thought-through arguments deserve reference.

Roald Hoffmann, Cornell University


1. Grandinetti, F. Nature Chem. 5, 438 (2013). [Link]

2. Bent, H. New Ideas in Chemistry from Fresh Energy for the Periodic Law (AuthorHouse, 2006). [Link]

3. Scerri, E. R. The Periodic Table: Its Story and Its Significance (Oxford University Press, 2007). [Link]

4. Grochala, W. Pol. J. Chem. 83, 87–122 (2009). [Link to journal website]

5. Grochala, W. Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys. 14, 14860–14868 (2012). [Link]


Felice Grandinetti replies:

In reply to the letter by Roald Hoffmann:

My essay on neon chemistry intended to be an entertaining recognition of salient facts, systems, and concepts. The supreme inertness of Ne and the actual position of He in the periodic table are, in particular, “hot” topics, well highlighted before me by the scientists mentioned by Roald Hoffmann in his comment. I at present share the suggestion that neon is the most inert element, based also on my own experience in the theoretical investigation of noble gas compounds. The competition between He and Ne as the most inert element certainly invites further investigation, and I hope that this blog may be the place for future debate.

Felice Grandinetti, University of Tuscia

Anne Pichon

Senior Editor, Nature Chemistry, Springer Nature

Anne received a broad training in chemistry at the National Graduate School of Chemistry in Montpellier, France. She then focused on inorganic and supramolecular chemistry and obtained her MPhil and PhD degrees from the Queen's University Belfast, UK, investigating porous coordination polymers for host–guest applications. After an internship with Nature Reviews Drug Discovery, Anne moved to John Wiley and Sons in 2007 as an assistant editor of the Society of Chemical Industry journals. She joined Nature Chemistry in October 2008, and was initially based in Tokyo where she also worked on other publishing projects with Nature Asia-Pacific. In April 2013, Anne relocated to the London office and now works full time on the journal.