The chemistry of the anions dicyanamide and tricyanomethanide (dca and tcm, respectively) has produced a plethora of discoveries over the past few decades, particularly in relation to transition-metal coordination polymers with magnetic coupling. Over recent years there have been an increasing number of reports of heterofunctionalised cyano-containing anions, typically derivatives of dicyanomethanide. Our own group has been particularly concerned with the amide- and nitroso-functionalised anions carbamoyldicyanomethanide (cdm) and dicyanonitrosomethanide (dcnm), respectively. This feature article examines the fascinating diversity of materials and complexes that can be obtained using small cyano anions, ranging from coordination polymers to heterometallic clusters and hydrogen bonding networks. In particular, we focus on results from our own laboratories in the past few years. The magnetic properties of these materials are briefly discussed.
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