Ammonium tetrathiomolybdate

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Ammonium tetrathiomolybdate
Other names ammonium thiomolybdate
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RTECS number QA4668250
Molar mass 260.28 g/mol
Appearance red crystals
Melting point
Basicity (pKb) decomposes
Main hazards toxic
Related compounds
Except where noted otherwise, data are given for
materials in their standard state
(at 25 °C, 100 kPa)

Infobox disclaimer and references

Ammonium tetrathiomolybdate is the chemical compound with the formula [NH4]2[MoS4]. This bright red ammonium salt is an important reagent in the chemistry of molybdenum and has been used as a building block in bioinorganic chemistry. The thiometallate anion has the distinctive property of undergoing oxidation at the sulfur centers concomitant with reduction of the metal from Mo(VI) to Mo(IV).

Preparation and structure

The salt contains the tetrahedral [MoS4]2- anion. The compound is prepared by treating solutions of molybdate, [MoO4]2- with hydrogen sulfide in the presence of ammonia:[1]

[NH4]2[MoO4] + 4 H2S → [NH4]2[MoS4] + 4 H2O
The [MoS4]2- anion.


The anion is also an excellent ligand. For example, with Ni(II) sources, it forms [Ni(MoS4)2]2-. Much of the chemistry of the thiomolybdate results from studies on salts of quaternised organic cations, such as [NEt4]2[MoS4] and [PPh4]2[MoS4] (Et = C2H5, Ph = C6H5).[2] These organic salts are soluble in polar organic solvents such as acetonitrile and dmf.

The thermal decomposition of [NH4]2[MoS4] leads to sulfides of composition MoSx (2< x< 3), which are of interest as catalysts for hydrodesulfurization.[3]

Related compounds

Several related thio and seleno anions are known including (A = alkali metal cation, [PPh4]+, [NEt4]+)

  • A3[VS4][4]
  • A3[NbS4][4]
  • A3[TaS4][4]
  • A2[MoSe4]
  • A2[WS4][5]
  • A2[WSe4]
  • A[ReS4][6]

More complex tetrahedral anions include A2[MoS4-xOx] and A2[WS4-xOx]


Ammonium tetrathiomolybdate was first used therapeutically in the treatment of copper toxicosis in animals. It was then introduced as a treatment in Wilson's disease, a hereditary copper metabolism disorder, in humans; it acts both by competing with copper absorption in the bowel and by increasing excretion. It has also been found to have an inhibitory effect on angiogenesis, making it an investigatory treatment for cancer, age-related macular degeneration, and other diseases featuring excessive blood vessel deposition.[7]


  1. Müller, A.; Diemann, E.; Jostes, R.; Bögge, H. (1981). "Transition Metal Thio Anions: Properties and Significance for Complex Chemistry and Bioinorganic Chemistry". Angewandte Chemie International Edition in English. 20: 934. doi:10.1002/anie.198109341.
  2. Coucouvanis, D. (1998). "Syntheses, Structures, and Reactions of Binary and Tertiary Thiomolydate Complexes Containing the (O)Mo(Sx) and (S)Mo(Sx) Functional Groups (x = 1, 2, 4)". Advances in Inorganic Chemistry. 45: 1–73.
  3. Alonso, G.; Berhault, G.; Aguilar, A.; Collins, V.; Ornelas, C.; Fuentes, S.; Chianelli, R. R. (2002). "Characterization and HDS Activity of Mesoporous MoS2 Catalysts Prepared by in Situ Activation of Tetraalkylammonium Thiomolybdates". J. Catal. 208: 359–369. doi:10.1006/jcat.2002.3553.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Lee, S. C.; Li, J.; Mitchell, J. C.; Holm, R. H., (1992). "Group 5 Tetrathiometalates: Simplified Syntheses and Structures". Inorg. Chem. 31: 4333–4338. doi:10.1021/ic00047a021.
  5. Srinivasan, B. R.; Poisot, M.; Näther, C.; Bensch, W. (2004). "Diammonium tetrathiotungstate(VI), [NH4]2[WS4], at 150 K". Acta Crystallographica Section E: Structure Reports Online. E60: i136–i138. doi:10.1107/S1600536804023761.
  6. Goodman, J. T.; Rauchfuss, T. B., (2002). "Tetraethylammonium-tetrathioperrhenate [Et4N][ReS4]". Inorganic Syntheses. 33: 107–110.
  7. Brewer GJ, Hedera P, Kluin KJ; et al. (2003). "Treatment of Wilson disease with ammonium tetrathiomolybdate: III. Initial therapy in a total of 55 neurologically affected patients and follow-up with zinc therapy". Arch Neurol. 60 (3): 379–85. doi:10.1001/archneur.60.3.379. PMID 12633149.