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You Don’t See Many Names Starting with “Tellura-“

When I wrote here about unknown compounds, using aza-steroids as examples, I apparently wasn’t thinking far enough afield. I noticed this new paper on a new class of tellura-steroids. I’ve no doubt that they’re new; probably no one has ever thought to make anything that looks quite like this before (there’s one other report of a tellura-steroid from 1990). Tellurium remains an element I’ve never used, but after that barrage of reports from fans of hafnium the other day, I’m sort of afraid to ask what people have used this one for. . .

24 comments on “You Don’t See Many Names Starting with “Tellura-“”

  1. barry says:

    I’ve never used a tellurium compound and don’t mean to. I do remember however that a labmate in grad-school made a very small amount of H2Te in-situ as a reductant for an enone. H2S smells terrible and H2Se smells worse. H2Te smells worse still. I don’t know why I have olfactory receptors for such a thing, but I hope never to stimulate one again. No one was unhappy when the reduction didn’t work.

  2. David P says:

    Someone in the inorganic group downstairs from me in grad school was making some kind of telluride. I forget what exactly, but to echo Barry above, it smelled TERRIBLE. That was a competent and experienced post doc keeping everything in the hood too. If he had been sloppy as well, we would not have been able to stay in the building.

  3. That’s another one I use every day. It’s part of the Germanium-Antimony-Tellurian phase-change material that forms the writable layer in DVD+RW discs.

  4. Arjun says:

    I used Ph2Te2 a bunch in grad school and also took a few cracks at making the perfluorinated version, but was never able to do so. Didn’t smell as far as I could tell, but I *was* in a glovebox.
    Interestingly, the Te-Te bond is so weak that mixing a solution of (R1)2Te2 and (R2)2Te2 will spontaneously generate a statistical mixture that includes the mixed ditellurides (R1)TeTe(R2).
    What’s also nice is that you can follow this by Te NMR!

  5. Martin says:

    but I *was* in a glovebox
    excellent idea! I’ve always wondered what it would be like to get inside one of those and reverse the gloves and do all the smelly stuff outside and watch the labmates run…

  6. cookingwithsolvents says:

    PhTeTePh is a good reagent for titration of RLi. Self-indicating. I use it for MeLi and BuLi pretty frequently…

  7. Another Kevin says:

    Cadmium zinc telluride is a wonderful detector material for X-ray and gamma-ray spectroscopy. It gets used a lot in X-ray, CT, PET and SPECT scanners.

  8. Anne says:

    The coming new X-ray satellite, Astrosat, prominently features a cadmium zinc telluride detector. Fortunately (by the sound of it) it will be located in orbit where I won’t have to smell the detector. “Telluric lines” on the other hand are a nuisance but have nothing to do with tellurium.

  9. fungus says:

    Wohler (of urea fame) made diethyl telluride and remarked that after working with it, it was best to avoid social contact for several months.

  10. gippgig says:

    Tetratellurafulvalene derivatives have been studied as organic metals. (Some similar sulfur & selenium compounds are organic supconductors.)

  11. DLIB says:

    Bismuth telluride makes a fairly sensitive thermometer — thermoelectric with high seebeck coeff

  12. Sili says:

    Damn. I was beaten to the fulvalenes.
    The lab next door worked on tetrathiafulvalenes as donors for supramolecular chemistry. I recall from their theses that tetraselenafulvalenes are even better donors, but they abstained from making them due to the smell. I wasn’t actually sure that anyone had gone down to tetraselena, but I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.
    As a failed crystallographer, I’m embarrassed that I didn’t know what X-ray detectors are made of.

  13. gippgig says:

    Oops, make that superconductors.

  14. A Nonny Mouse says:

    We had a post-doc in our lab working for Derek Barton on telluro ketones. He had to do a night shift with red lights in the fume hood as they were so sensitive.

  15. MTK says:

    Ph2Te2 is also great compound for titrating Grignards, which are usually that dark grey color which makes other indicators tough to see.

  16. anchor says:

    Telluride, Colorado, is recognized for its unrivaled recreational opportunities. In addition to hiking, biking, fly-fishing, rafting, and other outdoor activities, one can also smell a breath of fresh air that is very refreshing.

  17. Bruce Grant says:

    …all of which, of course, makes me think of

  18. blue_Jan says:

    I was working on self-assembled monolayers. First I worked with thiols then selenols (one look and they became diselenides but worked well in that form as well). The move to tellurium was natural but those damn things evaded all useful synthetic strategies (insertion of the element into the wanted diorganyldichalkogenide bond)that their use as SAM-building molecules was successful. The move to dipolonides was fortunately hindered by the world production of Polonium (around 10 g per year) and the rarely found property of autoradiolysis (molecules are burning themself thanks to their radioactivity).
    I never noticed a strong smell of the tellurium (tends to prefer oxidation state 0) but the smell of diselenides was always the smell of victory even when it was only caused by the minute degradation to H2Se.
    For everyone who tries to make organochalkogenides: Make the organic residue big, the bigger the better (low to very low vapor pressure). Everybody will thank you.

  19. Harry says:

    Never worked with tellurium, but I did a bunch of work with selenium back in the 90’s. I also worked with a bunch of different mercaptans in the 80’s, and I have to say that selenols have the worst odors I’ve experienced, although isocyanides come within a gnat’s eyelash. If tellurium compounds are any worse, I’m glad we passed on that market.

  20. Zidor Son of Phrimlatz says:

    Greetings from the planet Vrxseem (Earthlings would pronounce that “Vrxseem”.)
    Tellurium is the most valuable element on our planet. We use it to cure Rfghseorn Syndrome.
    Thank you, Derek of Arkansas for informing us that Tellurium is present on your planet. We have run dangerously low. The Spldkreresdefiam Armada will be dispatched shortly.
    End of transmission.

  21. coprolite says:


  22. Anne says:

    Someone call the Doctor to save us from the Spldkreresdefiam Armada!

  23. Harry says:

    No problem- I have my Slim Whitman albums loaded and ready for action!

  24. Bangor says:

    Obviously the Vrxseemians have State-run healthcare if they are having to go to other planets to get what they need. Sort of like the Canadians….

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