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RESULTS AND DISCUSSION

Cobalt (II) chloride is generally obtained as the hexahydrate, in pink to red crystals. The
color of this solution is due to the pink Co(H2O)62+ complex with water as ligand. The formation
reaction can be written as:

[Co(H2O)6]2+(aq) + 4 Cl- ⇆ [(CoCl4)]2-(aq) + 6H2O

The ligand ammonia that is added to the cobalt (III) metal complex acts as both a base
and a ligand. With small amount of it, hydrogen ions are pulled off the hexaaqua ion exactly as
in the hydroxide ion case to give the same neutral complex. The formation reaction can be
written as:

Co(H2O)62+ + 2NH3 [Co(H2O)4(OH)2] + 2NH4+

However, when excess ammonia is added, the the precipitates dissolved and the
ammonia replaced the water as a ligand. As a result, the hexaamminecobalt (II) ions are
formed. Hydrogen peroxide is then generally used to oxidize the Co(II) to Co(III). The formation
reaction can be written as:

Co(H2O)62+ + (excess) NH3 [Co(NH3)6]2+ + 6H2O

When the ligand, ammonia, is added, a change in color is observed. A small amount of
excess ammonia added to the cobalt (III) metal complex should yield a color of red-orange or
brown. The solution absorbed the color bluish green or greenish blue since it is the
complementary color of the observed color as represented by figure 3.1.

OBSERVATIONS
TEST TUBE LIGAND ADDED EXPERIMENTAL THEORETICAL
A AMMONIA BLUE RED-ORANGE
B NITRITE PINK YELLOW
C CARBONATE COLORLESS GREEN
D WATER BLUE

Table 3.1: Summary of the observed colors when a ligand is added to cobalt (III) metal
complexes
Ammonia exerts a significantly stronger
electrostatic field than does chloride ion and more or
less of one in the coordination sphere of the Co3+ ion
should alter the splitting of the d-orbitals which
contributes to the color of the complex ion. The
wavelength of the light absorbed by the solution ranges
Figure 3.1 represents the wavelength from 480-500 nm. This implies that the metal complex
of the colors absorbed and emitted of
formed has a relatively high splitting energy, Δ. There is
the ligand

a huge amount of energy required to shift an electron into a higher energy level resulting to an
observable color of red-orange.

Cobalt (II) chloride reacted with sodium nitrite and glacial acetic acid to produce sodium
hexanitrocobalate (III), sodium chloride, sodium acetate, nitric oxide and water. Theoretically,
the solution should have yielded a yellow color due to the presence of the ligand nitrite. Note
that the color of metal complexes depends on the ligand attached. According to crystal field
theory, the colors exhibited by the solutions are dependent on the wavelength absorbed by the
solution during the splitting of orbitals causing electrons to move from ground state to excited
state then back to ground state. The wavelength absorbed during the formation of the metal
complex ranges from 435-480 nm and it absorbed the color blue. The formation reactions are
given below.

CoCl2 + 7NaNO2 + 2CH3COOH → Na3[Co(NO2)6] + 2NaCl + 2CH3COONa + NO + H2O

[Co(NO2)3] + NO2- ⇌ [Co(NO3)4]-

[Co(NO2)4]- + NO2- ⇌ [Co(NO2)5]2-

[Co(NO2)5]2- + NO2- ⇌ [Co(NO2)5]3-

The addition of 1.0 mL of saturated sodium bicarbonate and 1.0 mL of 6% sodium


peroxide to the solution resulted to the formation of a cobalt carbonate metal complex.
Theoretically, the observed color should be green. The wavelength absorbed during the
formation of the metal complex ranges from 605 to 750 and it absorbed the color red. From this
data, it can be inferred that the complex has low splitting parameter since it absorbed a
relatively large wavelength. The numerical relationship between Δ and the wavelength of the
absorbed light is found by combining the expression E=hv and v=c/𝜆, where c is the speed of
light and 𝜆 is the wavelength.

[Co(H2O)6]2+ + 6HCO3- ⇄ [Co(CO3)3]3- + 3H2O + 3CO2

Theoretically, the addition of water to the mixture would result to a blue solution. The
wavelength that is supposed to be absorbed during the formation of the metal complex ranges
from 580-595 nm and it absorbed the color yellow. Again, the metal complex would absorbed a
large wavelength, this would result to a low splitting energy. Thus, there is minimun amount of
energy required to shift an electron into a higher energy level resulting to an observable color of
blue.

[Co(CO3)3]3- + 6H2O+ ⇄ [Co(H2O)6]2+ + 3CO2 + 3H2O

To address the stability of the metal complexes, the formation constant or stability
constant could be applied (Kf). A higher value of Kf means that the complex is stable and more
likely to be formed.

LIGANDS ADDED Kf EXPRESSION


[Co(NH3)6]^2+
AMMONIA Kf=[(Co(H2O)6)2 +][ (excess)NH3]
[Co(NO2)5]^3−
NITRITE Kf=[(Co(NO2)5)2 −][ (NO2)−]
[Co(CO3)3]^3−
CARBONATE Kf=[(Co(H2O)6)2 +][ HCO3−]^6
[Co(H2O)6]^2+
WATER Kf=[(Co(H2O)6)2
+][ CO2]^3[ H2O]^3

Table 3.2: Kf expression for different cobalt (III) complexes

Interpreting the visible spectra of many complexes could lead to the possible
arrangement of common ligands in order of increasing field strength. This arrangement is called
the spectrochemical series. Strong field ligands produce large crystal field splitting and produce
low spin complexes. For this experiment, strong field ligands are the metal with ammonia and
nitrite as the ligand. Low spin complexes usually absorb higher-energy (shorter wavelength)
light than low spin complexes. On the other hand, weak field ligands produce small crystal field
splitting and high spin complexes. For this experiment, the ligands carbonate and water
exhibited small crystal field splitting and high spin complexes.
OBSERVED COLOR WAVELENGTH
TEST TUBE LIGAND
COLOR(THEORETICAL) ABSORBED ABSORBED (nm)
C CARBONATE GREEN RED 605-750
D WATER BLUE YELLOW 580-595
GREENISH BLUE/
A AMMONIA RED-ORANGE BLUISH GREEN 480-500
B NITRITE YELLOW BLUE 435-480

Table 3.3: Arrangement of Ligands in Increasing field strength

Table 3.3 displays the proper arrangement of the ligands. It could be expressed as:
CO2 < H2O < NH3 < NO2-

This arrangement implies that the ligand carbonanate formed the weakest field strength thus the
least stable while nitrite has the strongest field strength. It can be deduced that nitrite is more
likely to form stable metal complexes than carbonate in the cobalt (III) chloride solution.
The experimentation produced very different results. The colors observed from the
formation of different cobalt (III) metal complexes is very different from the theoretical
observations (refer to table 3.1). It would be hard to arrange the ligands in terms of increasing
field strength if the experimental data is used. It is because, the cobalt metal with carbonate as
the ligand produced a colorless solution and it is not included in the spectrum of colors that
transition metal complexes would produce. That is also the case for nitrite ligand. The errors
from the experiment could have arisen from the reagents utilized as it could be chemically
altered due to age, presence of impurities, or exposure to air. Another possible source of error
could be the inaccurate amount of the ligands added. It is also possible that the reagents
dissipate with the oxygen in the air resulting to altering the whole reaction between the metal ion
and ligands.
For this experiment, it is suggested to prepare four (4) pure cobalt solution. One would
be the control, the other three would be mixed with chloride solution to demonstrate the change
in color due to deprotonization. Then, the reagents will be added to two test tube with chloride
solution while the other test tube with chloride will be the control. From that set-up, the change
in color could be observed. Also it is possible to utilize a cold water bath and a hot water bath to
further demonstrate the change in color due to equilibrium shifting. It is important that the
reagents and samples to be used are pure so that the experiment will yield a result that is
comparable to the theoretically accepted color.