Fitting the Pieces of the Puzzle: The delta Bond.
The development of our understanding of the delta bond and its role in quadruple metal-metal bonding is described in terms of the conceptual advances and experimental and theoretical results achieved through a 50-year period beginning with the seminal report by Cotton and co-workers in 1964. The work behind the original discovery is described, along with the qualitative orbital description of the components of the quadruple bond. The effect of torsion about the metal-metal axis on the metal-metal bond length is described, together with the conclusion that this accords with a progressive loss of the delta component of the metal-metal bond. The important role of photoelectron spectroscopy in characterizing the loss of electrons from the metal-metal bonding orbitals is reviewed, as are the electron paramagnetic resonance results that establish that unpaired electrons, when present, populate metal-based orbitals. Other important results are described: destabilization of the metal-metal bond to produce strong reducing agents, exceptions to the expected orbital ordering, and the use of chiroptical properties to reveal additional information about the electronic structure of the metal-metal bond.