I'm working right now in the solvent importance in ionic character, and I noticed how a binary salt ($\ce{CuCl2}$) dissolved better in methanol than in dimethylsulfoxide, and in contrast, a coordination compound (Cu[salen]) dissolved better in DMSO that in the aforementioned solvent.

It doesn't make a lot of sense to me considering these properties I found:


  • Dipole moment: 3.96
  • Dielectric constant: 47


  • Dipole moment: 1.71
  • Dielectric constant: 33

I would have expected the binary salt to dissolve better in DMSO rather than Methanol, and the inverse in the coordination compound yet it didn't happen like that. Is there a intermolecular detail I'm not considering? An hydrophobic-hydrophilic portion in the structure? Thanks everyone.

  • $\begingroup$ Steric hinderance? $\endgroup$ – Kartik Sep 24 '16 at 15:09
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I was thinking more of the aprotic nature of the DMSO, and its inability to form hydrogen bonds. What were your thoughts? $\endgroup$ – Farad Sep 25 '16 at 11:22

Having large dipole moments and dielectric constants, as DMSO does, does not imply that it has the ability to solvate ionic compounds like $\ce{CuCl2}$.

Although both methanol and DMSO have oxygen atoms with their lone pair of electrons to help solvate cations, there is no corresponding functionality in DMSO to solvate a small, inorganic anion like chloride. Methanol on the other hand can solvate chloride via hydrogen bonding in the same way that water does.

These properties are not necessarily applicable to a coordination compound, so there is no reason to expect methanol to act as a better solvent than DMSO in this case.


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