On Fe–Fe Dumbbells in the Ideal and Real Structures of FeGa3

The intermetallic phase FeGa3 belongs to the rare examples of substances with transition metals where semiconducting behavior is found. The necessary electron count of 17 ve/fu can be formally derived from eight Fe–Ga and one Fe–Fe two-center–two-electron bond. The situation is reminiscent of the well-known Fe2(CO)9 scenario, where a direct Fe–Fe two-center–two-electron bond was shown to not be present. Fe–Fe interaction in FeGa3 and its substitution variants represents the crucial point for explanation of electronic, thermal transport, and optical properties of this material. Chemical bonding analysis in position space of FeGa3 and Fe2(CO)9 on the basis of the topology of the electron localizability indicator distribution, QTAIM atoms, two- and three-center delocalization indices, domain natural orbitals, IQA analysis, and an evaluation of the Fe–Fe dissociation energy yields a complete picture of the partially compensated Fe–Fe bond, which is nevertheless strong enough to be of decisive importance. Structural reinvestigation of differently synthesized single crystals leads to the composition Fe1+xGa3 (0 ≤ x ≤ 0.018), where the additional Fe atoms are predicted from DFT/PBE calculations to yield a magnetic moment of about 2 μB/Fe2 atom and metallic in-gap states. Accompanying magnetization and ESR measurements are consistent with this picture.