About this Author
DBL%20Hendrix%20small.png College chemistry, 1983

Derek Lowe The 2002 Model

Dbl%20new%20portrait%20B%26W.png After 10 years of blogging. . .

Derek Lowe, an Arkansan by birth, got his BA from Hendrix College and his PhD in organic chemistry from Duke before spending time in Germany on a Humboldt Fellowship on his post-doc. He's worked for several major pharmaceutical companies since 1989 on drug discovery projects against schizophrenia, Alzheimer's, diabetes, osteoporosis and other diseases. To contact Derek email him directly: Twitter: Dereklowe

Chemistry and Drug Data: Drugbank
Chempedia Lab
Synthetic Pages
Organic Chemistry Portal
Not Voodoo

Chemistry and Pharma Blogs:
Org Prep Daily
The Haystack
A New Merck, Reviewed
Liberal Arts Chemistry
Electron Pusher
All Things Metathesis
C&E News Blogs
Chemiotics II
Chemical Space
Noel O'Blog
In Vivo Blog
Terra Sigilatta
BBSRC/Douglas Kell
Realizations in Biostatistics
ChemSpider Blog
Organic Chem - Education & Industry
Pharma Strategy Blog
No Name No Slogan
Practical Fragments
The Curious Wavefunction
Natural Product Man
Fragment Literature
Chemistry World Blog
Synthetic Nature
Chemistry Blog
Synthesizing Ideas
Eye on FDA
Chemical Forums
Symyx Blog
Sceptical Chymist
Lamentations on Chemistry
Computational Organic Chemistry
Mining Drugs
Henry Rzepa

Science Blogs and News:
Bad Science
The Loom
Uncertain Principles
Fierce Biotech
Blogs for Industry
Omics! Omics!
Young Female Scientist
Notional Slurry
Nobel Intent
SciTech Daily
Science Blog
Gene Expression (I)
Gene Expression (II)
Adventures in Ethics and Science
Transterrestrial Musings
Slashdot Science
Cosmic Variance
Biology News Net

Medical Blogs
DB's Medical Rants
Science-Based Medicine
Respectful Insolence
Diabetes Mine

Economics and Business
Marginal Revolution
The Volokh Conspiracy
Knowledge Problem

Politics / Current Events
Virginia Postrel
Belmont Club
Mickey Kaus

Belles Lettres
Uncouth Reflections
Arts and Letters Daily
In the Pipeline: Don't miss Derek Lowe's excellent commentary on drug discovery and the pharma industry in general at In the Pipeline

In the Pipeline

« Layoff at Takeda | Main | DCA And Cancer: More Results »

May 13, 2010

You Don't See Many Names Starting with "Tellura-"

Email This Entry

Posted by Derek

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. . .

Comments (24) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Chemical News | Odd Elements in Drugs


1. barry on May 13, 2010 1:44 PM writes...

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.

Permalink to Comment

2. David P on May 13, 2010 2:03 PM writes...

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.

Permalink to Comment

3. Robert Bruce Thompson on May 13, 2010 3:42 PM writes...

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.

Permalink to Comment

4. Arjun on May 13, 2010 4:01 PM writes...

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!

Permalink to Comment

5. Martin on May 13, 2010 5:15 PM writes...

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...

Permalink to Comment

6. cookingwithsolvents on May 13, 2010 9:03 PM writes...

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

Permalink to Comment

7. Another Kevin on May 13, 2010 9:40 PM writes...

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.

Permalink to Comment

8. Anne on May 13, 2010 10:18 PM writes...

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.

Permalink to Comment

9. fungus on May 14, 2010 12:11 AM writes...

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

Permalink to Comment

10. gippgig on May 14, 2010 12:17 AM writes...

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

Permalink to Comment

11. DLIB on May 14, 2010 1:35 AM writes...

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

Permalink to Comment

12. Sili on May 14, 2010 1:42 AM writes...

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.

Permalink to Comment

13. gippgig on May 14, 2010 3:06 AM writes...

Oops, make that superconductors.

Permalink to Comment

14. A Nonny Mouse on May 14, 2010 4:10 AM writes...

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.

Permalink to Comment

15. MTK on May 14, 2010 6:57 AM writes...

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

Permalink to Comment

16. anchor on May 14, 2010 8:35 AM writes...

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.

Permalink to Comment

17. Bruce Grant on May 14, 2010 10:12 AM writes...

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

Permalink to Comment

18. blue_Jan on May 14, 2010 10:26 AM writes...

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.

Permalink to Comment

19. Harry on May 14, 2010 12:23 PM writes...

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.

Permalink to Comment

20. Zidor Son of Phrimlatz on May 14, 2010 3:47 PM writes...

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.

Permalink to Comment

21. coprolite on May 14, 2010 7:40 PM writes...


Permalink to Comment

22. Anne on May 16, 2010 10:45 PM writes...

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

Permalink to Comment

23. Harry on May 18, 2010 6:27 AM writes...

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

Permalink to Comment

24. Bangor on May 19, 2010 12:09 PM writes...

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....

Permalink to Comment


Remember Me?


Email this entry to:

Your email address:

Message (optional):

The Last Post
The GSK Layoffs Continue, By Proxy
The Move is Nigh
Another Alzheimer's IPO
Cutbacks at C&E News
Sanofi Pays to Get Back Into Oncology
An Irresponsible Statement About Curing Cancer
Oliver Sacks on Turning Back to Chemistry