Understanding why the chemistry of Beryllium is different
Beryllium is a chemical element that exhibits unusual bonding as well as unique physical properties. Due to their exceptional strength to weight ratios, beryllium alloys are used as lightweight structural materials. The remarkable durability of the metal is reflected by the fact that it is used as a plasma facing material in fusion reactors. The chemistry of beryllium is however under explored due to its toxicity. To circumvent this problem there have been many theoretical studies of beryllium and its compounds. However, beryllium poses a difficulty challenge for many computational techniques, due to its unusual bonding characteristics.
At present, the experimental data needed to evaluate quantum chemical models for beryllium are lacking. This validation is needed to establish confidence in the computational methods used to identify compounds with valuable physical and chemical properties. Experimental studies of prototypical beryllium compounds are the primary objectives of this program. We employ gas-phase spectroscopic techniques, such as photoelectron spectroscopy, to obtain structural and thermodynamic properties of beryllium-containing molecules and their corresponding ions. Specifically, beryllium oxides, hydroxides and carbides are investigated as they are the subjects of high-level theoretical investigations.