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Chemistry LibreTexts


There are several types of this isomerism frequently encountered in coordination chemistry and the following represents some of them. Isomers that contain the same number of atoms of each kind but differ in which atoms are bonded to one another are called structural isomers, which differ in structure or bond type. For inorganic complexes, there are three types of structural isomers: ionization, coordination, and linkage and two types of stereoisomers: geometric and optical.

Structural isomers, as their name implies, differ in their structure or bonding, which are separate from stereoisomers that differ in the spatial arrangement of the ligands are attached, but still have the bonding properties. The different chemical formulas in structural isomers are caused either by a difference in what ligands are bonded to the central atoms or how the individual ligands are bonded to the central atoms. When determining a structural isomer, you look at: (1) the ligands that are bonded to the central metal, and (2) which atom of the ligands attach to the central metal. Below is a quick look at the different types of structural isomers. The highlighted ions are the ions that switch or change somehow to make the type of structural isomer it is.