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Chemistry & Biochemistry: Inorganic Chemistry

Subject guide for chemistry and biochemistry

Locating Books

To locate books on your topic, use the UCSB Library Search.. As a starting point, use a subject search on the applicable broad subject terms. For a particular chemical element use the element name. Some classes of compounds (porphyrins, fullerenes) have their own subject headings. For the most general classes of inorganic chemistry, use chemistry, inorganic or inorganic compounds; organometallic chemistry or organometallic compounds; coordination chemistry. Don't try to get too specific in a subject search - the Library of Congress subject headings do not go into great depth in chemical terminology.

If you can't find anything useful with a subject search, try a keyword search on your terms. Keyword searching searches both book titles and subject headings, and, for recent works, may also search chapter titles. If you find a relevant record, check its subject headings to see if there is alternative terminology you should try. Browsing a call number range can also be helpful: Classic inorganic chemistry is found in QD 146-197; organometallic chemistry in QD 410-412.5 and physical inorganic chemistry at QD 475.

General Reference Works

"Comprehensive" Chemistry Series
Comprehensive Coordination Chemistry    (Ref QD 474 .C65 1987)
Comprehensive Coordination Chemistry II    (Ref QD 474 .C65 2004)
Comprehensive Inorganic Chemistry    (Ref QD 151.2 .C64)
Comprehensive Inorganic Chemistry II UCSB Only (available online only at UCSB)
Comprehensive Organometallic Chemistry    (Ref QD 411 .C65 1982)
Comprehensive Organometallic Chemistry II    (Ref QD411 .C652 1995)
Comprehensive Organometallic Chemistry III   UCSB Only (Ref QD411 .C653 2007)
Comprehensive Supramolecular Chemistry    (Ref QD 411 .C66 1996)
These sets from Pergamon Press/Elsevier contain excellent review articles on various aspects of their respective subjects, and make good starting points for new research. The oldest of these, Comprehensive Inorganic Chemistry, is becoming somewhat dated, but is still useful. Each set is organized into volumes on broad subject areas; it's best to consult the subject indexes to locate your topic. Most of the sets also have an excellent molecular formula index.

Comprehensive Treatise on Inorganic and Theoretical Chemistry    (Ref QD 31 .M4)
Commonly referred to as "Mellor's" after its original editor, this set is old even in its most recent supplements, but is still a very useful one-stop source for classical inorganic chemistry of the elements. It is organized by periodic groups.

Kirk-Othmer Encyclopedia of Chemical Technology  UCSB Only (
(In print at TP 9 .E685)
Commonly referred to as "Kirk-Othmer" after its original editors, this encyclopedia has good overview articles on substances of commercial importance. It does not go into depth on laboratory methods, but there is frequently useful property information, and the articles are very well referenced. Articles are selectively updated on a regular basis.

Encyclopedia of Inorganic and Bioinorganic Chemistry  UCSB Only  (available online only at UCSB)
This is a fairly new work, containing a mixture of short "definition" articles with longer review articles by noted authors; the articles have good bibliographies. It covers inorganic, bioinorganic, organometallic and coordination chemistry. The encyclopedia is organized alphabetically, with a thematic list in the foreword, a subject index and list of contributors.

Handbook of Inorganic Chemicals  Ref QD 155.5 .P37 2003
Physical properties, uses and preparations for 2,000 of the most common industrial chemicals.

Handbook of Zeolite Science and Technology     Ref TP 159 .M6 H35 2003
This one volume has chapters by experts on various aspects of synthesis and structure, characterization, host-guest chemistry and applications of zeolites. UCSB Only (
 Knovel provides electronic versions of an extensive collection of reference works in chemistry, including several for inorganicl chemistry.  Data tables are numerically searchable, and some titles provide interactive tables, graphs and equations.

Porphyrin Handbook    Ref QP 671 .P6 P67 2000
Relatively recent and comprehensive 20-volume work on the organic and organometallic chemistry and biochemistry of porphyrins.

Gmelin Handbook of Inorganic and Orgamometallic Chemistry    (Ref QD 151 .G52)
This is the most comprehensive source of information in inorganic chemistry. Begun in 1817 by Leopold Gmelin, it went through seven editions before the current on began in 1924. Originally focused on classic inorganic chemistry; organometallic was recently added to the title to reflect the vast growth of the latter field. Gmelin is strong on both tabulated property data and descriptive information on compounds and reactions.

Gmelin published volumes entirely according to editorial choice, reflecting mainly the volume of research in a given area since the last such volume. Gmelin does not attempt to cover chronological periods in a block. Each volume is devoted to a particular aspect of the chemistry of a single element, with a specified closing date. Examples:

  • Magnesium has had eight volumes published -- none since 1952.
  • Iron has had over 30 volumes on its organometallic chemistry since 1974, with eleven volumes on ferrocenes alone!
  • Uranium has special volumes on nuclear fuel behavior, extraction and purification.

The Gmelin volumes are organized by "principal element", where, in general, transition metals rank higher than main group metals, which rank higher than nonmetals Examples:

  • NaCl -- Sodium is Vol. 21; Chlorine is Vol. 6. Therefore, Vol. 21
  • Ferrocene - Carbon is Vol. 14; Hydrogen is Vol. 2; Iron is Vol. 59. Therefore Ferrocene appears in Vol. 59
  • (NH4)2Cr2O7 -- Chromium is Vol 52; Ammonium gets its own volume, 23: Oxygen is Vol. 2. Therefore: Vol. 52.

Gmelin has comprehensive formula indexes, in three parts: 1924-74, 1974-79, and 1980-87. Formulas are listed alphabetically using Hill notation. Volumes before 1980 are in German; volumes since 1980 are in English The UCSB Library does not have a complete set of Gmelin, lacking volumes published before 1960 and after 1991. Publication of new volumes ceased a few years ago, but has resumed in electronic form only. An electronic version of the Gmelin Handbook is available as part of Reaxys (see below). This version does not contain all of the text of print Gmelin, but has most of the numeric data and reaction references.

Reaxys UCSB Only

  • Immense collection of chemical substance and reaction data for organic, inorganic and organometallic chemistry; combines the Beilstein, Gmelin, and Elsevier Patent Chemistry databases
  • Searchable by text term, structure or reaction diagram and/or numerical property values.

Physical Properties

WebElements (
WebElements is a hypertext-linked collection of property data on the first 112 elements including (where available): general, chemical, physical, nuclear, electronic, biological, geological, crystallographic, reduction potential, isotopic abundances, electronic configurations, ionization enthalpy data and additional textual information, especially on the history of the elements.

This electronic resource includes the content of three print resources listed below.

  • CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics    (QD 65 .H3 SEL SEL Ref Desk)
    Probably the most familiar source, the CRC handbook is published annually but usually changes little from one year to the next. It contains a variety of useful physical and chemical data, with some references. Some of the data is given in the main table of inorganic compounds, other data appears in separate tables grouped by data type. Not very systematic in choice of data, and indexing can be inconsistent.
  • Dictionary of Inorganic Compounds    (SEL Ref QD 148 .D53 1992)
  • Dictionary of Organometallic Compounds, 2nd ed.    (SEL Ref QD 411 .D53 1995)
    Chapman-Hall publishes a variety of "dictionaries" of compounds, including these two sets. They give structure diagrams, basic physical data (on both the compound and significant derivatives), and references for other information (syntheses, spectra, etc.). Alphabetical arrangement; well-indexed, including CAS Registry Numbers.

Cambridge Structural Database (WebCSD) UCSB Only  Produced by the Cambridge Crystallographic Data Centre, the Cambridge Structural Database is the world's repository of experimentally determined organic and metal-organic crystal structures, with over 500,000 structures.  The WebCSD interface allow for text and numerical searching, substructure searching, similarity searching, and reduced cell seaching of the database.  It can display structures in a variety of visualization formats.  WebCSD is paid for by the UCSB Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry; students in that department may contact departmental IT support for information on downloading additional CSD software.

Spectra: For Spectra sources, see the appropriate section of the General Chemistry guide. Note that spectra for inorganic and organometallic compounds are much less commonly available than for organic compounds.

Synthetic Methods

Inorganic Syntheses    (Ref QD 151 .I5)
This is a less-than-annual publication, similar in format to the more famous Organic Syntheses, giving detailed and tested methods for syntheses, including reaction conditions, yields and safety information. It covers inorganic and organometallic compounds (including boranes, synthetic metals, ceramic superconductors, etc.) The series has no collective volumes, but the indexes cumulate every five volumes, and there is a collective index to volumes 1-30. The online version is keyword searchable across the entire series; while UCSB does not currently have access to the full text online, the online site can conveniently be used as an index to locate articles in the print version.

Science of Synthesis UCSB Only
This is an electronic version of a handbook of organic synthetic methods, in two parts: Science of Synthesis contains 44 volumes (and growing( While is is primarly concerned with organic synthetic methods, the first eight volumes deal with the syntheses of organometallic comounds. It is browsable by the table of contents - the organometallic volumes are organized by periodic table groups, with boron getting an entire volume to itself. They may be searched by chemical name or chemical structure.
The Houben-Weyl Archive (1909 to 2004) provides immediate access to 146 000 product specific experimental procedures, 580 000 structures, and 700 000 references in all fields of synthetic organic chemistry - dating back to the early 1800s. It may be browsed by table of contents, or searched for name reactions. Most of the earlier volumes are in German, and there is much less material on organometallics in the Archive.


Locating Articles

Subject Guide

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Chuck Huber
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