Labile Complex Definition

Chemistry Glossary Definition of Labile Complex

Buckyball
Carbon fullerenes may be labile, only holding a spherical conformation for a short time.

KATERYNA KON/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY / Getty Images

In chemistry, a labile complex is a complex ion which quickly reaches equilibrium with the ligands in a surrounding solution. It is a transient chemical species. The molecule may assume a higher energy conformation for a time before returning to a lower energy state. An example is C25 fullerene, which may assume a spherical form for a short time. Another example is the labilization of CO ligands in the cis position in transition metal complexes.

In biochemistry, lability is a kinetic concept involving metalloproteins. In biological systems, metalloproteins may be rapidly synthesized and degraded. There are also heat-labile proteins, which change or are denatured at high temperature.

In biology, labile cells are those that continually divide and remain in the cell cycle. Cells of the epithelium of the cornea are examples of labile cells.