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Book Review Band Theory of Solids. An Introduction from the Point of View of Symmetry. By S. L. Altman

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Award of the Western Writers of America, of which he is a
member. His writing skills are evidenced by the entertaining
and easygoing style of his latest book, which, despite the
inclusion of many chemical engineering details, is readily
accessible to the general reader.
The 13-chapter book begins with the author’s acceptance
of an assignment on a classified government project without
knowing what the job was and having been misled as to
where the work was to take place (he thought that he would
be employed at Olin Mathieson’s Niagara Falls plant, but
instead he was assigned to the same company’s boron fuels
pilot plant at the Malta Rocket Test Station at Malta, New
York). Dequasie managed pilot plants and assisted in the
design of the first commercial plant until the project, which
consumed about a billion dollars (as measured in 1990 dollars) in the construction alone for eight plants was abandoned on August 10,1959, shortly before production was to
begin in earnest. The project was terminated because of excessive costs but primarily because boric oxide, one of the
combustion products of boron fuels, is a solid, which caused
problems of erosion and deposits in the engines and produced less thrust than if the combustion product were a gas.
This unsurmountable defect should have been recognized
before the project was even begun.
The boron hydrides not only ignited spontaneously in air,
but they possessed nerve-gas toxicity, making gas masks routine equipment for project workers. Boron hydride poisoning, nicknamed “the goodies”, was also rumored to cause
sterility or impotence. Furthermore, in combination with
solvents and other substances, boranes were explosive, and
eight persons were killed in explosions during the course of
the project. Dequasie strikingly recounts these “hazards at
every turn” and other chemical and engineering challenges
along with quotidian problems such as testing valves, filling
cylinders, changing vacuum pump oil, scaling up reactions,
cleaning pots, and dealing with broken pipes, toxic exposures, shock waves, and the like. He also discusses at length
after-hours activities such as snowball fights, pinochle and
drinking parties, girl-chasing, dating, swimming, fishing,
camping, canoeing, hiking, cooking, flying lessons, social
clubs, ball games, explorer scout leadership, and bachelor
life in general. In his own words, the book is “not a
documentary about high-level administrative decisions
[but]. . .the story of the project as lived by front-line, handson people.” The 56 illustrations consist of snapshots of project workers, plant maps, documents, newspaper articles,
scenery, buildings, equipment, airplanes, and even a groundhog. A 10-page (2 columns per page) index adds to the utility
of the volume.
As those of us who have worked under government security clearance can testify, work on such projects carried out
during the cold war era was complicated by the stringent
secrecy imposed by concerns with national security. In keeping with the subtitle of his book, Dequasie fully considers
these problems. He makes extensive use of hundreds of newspaper and technical magazine articles and recollections of his
project colleagues to reinforce his own memories, and he
uses recently declassified documents to, in his own words,
“fill in things I had not known.” He speculates on the possible existence of spies and sabotage but leaves the ultimate
decision about these to the reader.
Although the boron hydrides were an expensive failure as
aircraft fuels, this engaging story of the boron fuels project
is much more than a history of chemical engineering or a
secret government project. It vividly captures the life and
vibrancy of an era. It can also serve as a cautionary tale, for
Dequasie declares that “today’s chemists, engineers, and
Angeu. Chrm. Int. Ed. Engl. 1992, 31. No. 8
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budding scientists still in school should be aware of the lessons learned by our experience. This book is designed to help
others to avoid repeating our mistakes.”
George B. Kauffman
California State University, Fresno
Fresno, CA (USA)
Band Theory of Solids. An Introduction from the Point of
View of Symmetry. By S . L. Altman. Oxford Science PubIications/Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1991. XIV, 286 pp.,
hardcover E 37.50.-ISBN 0-19-855184-3
In this book S. L. Altman is concerned with the electronic
properties of solids, with special reference to symmetry principles. In the preface the author explains that the book is
intended partly for solid state physicists; however, he has
also aimed to examine chemical aspects of solid state theory
and to provide solid state chemists with an introduction to
the field. Leaving aside the question of the appropriate readership, the author here offers a survey, written at a very
advanced level, of symmetry aspects of the band structures
of solids. For solid state physicists at least, the book provides
an easier introduction to the subject than, for example, Ziman, Kittel, or Lax. However, the author is perhaps too
optimistic in believing that it will find general acceptance
among theoretical solid state chemists. In order to reach a
quantitative understanding of the symmetry properties of
solids and their band structures, it is essential to work
through a textbook such as this one. However, in the opinion
of this reviewer it is questionable whether chemists will accept this approach. It seems more probable that solid state
chemists will look for an easier, qualitative, way into this
field, and will be content to leave it at that. Even at this level
one can find suitable review articles. Nevertheless, it is to be
hoped that in future chemists will become increasingly involved in the area of solids, and will be prepared to acquire
the necessary working knowledge.
Altman’s book is divided into 14 chapters. At the end of
each chapter there are exercise problems, the solutions to
which are discussed in detail in the appendix. There are over
80 problems altogether, with a steadily increasing level of
difficulty. Nearly all the chapters are well constructed from
a learning standpoint, and they enable the reader to get to
grips with a field that is by no means easy, and demands
some ability to deal with abstract concepts.
Chapter 1 is easily understandable, and explains the basic
principles of the model of free electrons in solids. The wave
vector k is introduced, and the significance of the Fermi
energy and Fermi surface is explained. The density of electronic states and energy bands are also discussed. Chapter 2
gives a very short introduction to the elements of group
theory (19 pp.). Unfortunately this part of the book is too
brief to meet the needs of an introductory text. The book
would be more easily understood by readers who already
have some knowledge of group theory. In the opinion of this
reviewer, the very condensed introduction to group theory is
the only negative aspect of the book. Chapter 3 deals with
space groups, covering such important topics as the Bravais
lattice and the definition of the Seitz operators for handling
point symmetry and translational symmetry in solids. Chapters 4 and 5 then introduce reciprocal lattices, Brillouin
zones, and the Bloch functions for solids. The derivation of
energy bands from the Bloch functions is also explained.
Chapter 6 returns to the theme of Chapter 3 with a discussion of ways of representing space groups. The effects of
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symmetry operations in a space group on the corresponding
Bloch functions are discussed in detail. Some applications of
this are then described in Chapter 7. Chapter 8 is concerned
mainly with energy bands in metals, semiconductors, and
insulators, and with how they are affected by the symmetry
of the lattice. This general theme is continued in Chapter 9.
Chapter 10 describes theoretical methods based on band
structure. Regrettably, however, Altman does not go into
detail regarding the more recent approaches that are of such
great importance for solid state calculations; examples of
these are linearized muffin-tin calculations and density functional methods, which in recent years have at last made it
possible to handle systems of chemical interest. However,
perhaps these topics are outside the scope of an introduction.
The remaining four chapters deal with selected subject areas
in the general field of condensed matter. Chapter 11 is mainly concerned with lattice vibrations and electrical conductivity, and also touches on electron-phonon coupling. Chapter 12 discusses instabilities and their dependence on
characteristic solid-state properties such as dimensionality.
Here Altman analyzes the physical causes of the so-called
Peierls instabilities. The next chapter looks at analogies between band models and representations of the electronic
wave-function in real space. The book ends with a review of
surface states and localized defect states.
To summarize, S. L. Altman has here written a very good
book on symmetry in solids. The material in the individual
chapters is very concentrated, and considerable effort is
needed to work through them. The main emphasis is on
explaining group theoretical methods, rather than on covering the whole range of potential applications. From the
chemistry standpoint, the book will only be of interest to
specialists in solid state theory.
Michael C. Bohm
Institut fur Physikalische Chemie
der Technischen Hochschule Darmstadt (FRG)
Cytochromes C. Evolutionary, Structural and Physicochemical Aspects. (Springer Series in Molecular Biology). By
G. R. Moore and G. lR Pettigrew. Springer, Berlin, 1990.
XVI, 478 pp., hardcover DM 168.00. --ISBN 3-54050852-X
The book reviewed here is the second monograph written
by Moore and Pettigrew on the subject of cytochromes C.
The first one, “Cytochromes C. Biological Aspects”, was
published in 1987 in the same series. Although cytochrome C
is only one of many hemoproteins of importance in energy
metabolism, it serves here as an example for describing the
many different physical methods used to analyze structure
and function of hemoproteins. The physicochemical fundamentals of hemoprotein structures and the spectroscopic
methods used to determine them, such as NMR, EPR, CD,
MCD, fluorescence, phosphorescence, Mossbauer and Xray spectroscopies, are all described in great detail. Examples
of actual results are discussed and summarized in the form of
tables. A further chapter lists all the known amino-acid sequences of cytochrome C variants. The molecular geometries and crystal structures are treated in great detail,
including variants in which the central atom is changed or
the amino-acids are modified. The chapter on evolution includes detailed discussions of the problems of phylogenetic
trees, the molecular clock, and the theory of random genetic
drift, as well as questions such as that of genus and species
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in bacteria, or the theory of endosymbionts to explain the
formation of mitochondria and chloroplasts. A further
chapter deals with the redox potentials of cytochromes C,
and here too the explanation of the physicochemical fundamentals is thorough and lucid. The final chapter gives a very
detailed and thorough treatment of the question of electron
transfer mechanisms.
The authors have shown a commendable awareness of the
need to relate the large amount of published work on cytochrome C to the basic physicochemical principles, and to
summarize the findings in useful generalizations. The book
is intended primarily for specialists, but also provides the less
experienced student with the basic knowledge needed to embark on the study of hemoproteins. Consequently it will
still remain an up-to-date work of reference ten years hence.
The book is indispensable for the libraries of biophysics
departments and those engaged in research on energy
metabolism.
Bernhard Kadenbach
Fachbereich Chemie
der Universitht Marburg (FRG)
Nucleoside Synthesis. Organosilicon Methods. (Ellis Horwood Series in Organic Chemistry.) By E. Lukevics and A .
Zablocka. Ellis Horwood, New York, 1991.496 pp., hardcover $221.95.--ISBN 0-13-812652-6
The chemistry of nucleosides, nucleotides, and nucleic acids
is currently a rapidly growing area of research. It soon became clear from studies of the structure and biological function of these natural products that syntheticallymodified species would have an enormous biological potential. Synthetic
analogues of nucleosides, nucleotides, and nucleic acids are
nowadays used as antimetabolites in biochemistry and
medicine. Examples are antiviral agents such as the
nucleoside analogues 3’-azidothymidine (AZT, which has
anti-HIV activity) and acyclovir (with anti-Herpes-simplex
activity), the antitumor agent 5-fluoridine, and the use of
“antisense-RNA’ and “antisense-DNA” as gene blockers.
Since biologically active nucleoside analogues are now so
widely used, methods for synthesizing them are of great importance.
One approach is by chemical modification, using a naturally occurring nucleoside as a precursor. However, the
scope for introducing such modifications is rather limited,
owing to the lability of the ,%glycosidic linkage that is already present. Another method is to build up the aromatic
heterocycle by using an N-glycosylated derivative as a precursor, but this method can only be considered in special
cases because of the considerable amount of synthetic work
required. The most important method, and the one that allows most scope for modifications, is the glycosylation of the
aglycone component using an appropriate carbohydrate
derivative. A special variant of this is the silyl method, in
which the glycosylation IS carried out using a silylated heterocycle, and this method is the subject of the book reviewed here. The first part of the book is devoted to a
thorough discussion of the synthetic aspects, and the second
part contains a survey, in the form of tables, of glycosylations that have so far been carried out using a silylated heterocycle (2549 examples in all!). The book is completed by
indexes listing the heterocycles and carbohydrate derivatives
that are covered, and a bibliography containing 1056 references.
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Angen’. Chem. I n f . Ed. Engl. 1992. 3f, N o . 8
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