Aluminum has a wide use in chemistry. In its elemental form, as an alloy with other metals, as an aluminum oxide (also called alumina and used widely to for its basic properties in chromatography), as a hydride, or as a Lewis acid, aluminum plays a fundamental role in a large scope of chemical transformations. The usefulness of aluminum as its Lewis acid owes to the ability of the aluminum Lewis acid to attract and coordinate the electrons of neighboring atoms and molecules. Further, the strength of the aluminum Lewis acid can be modulated with halides having different electronegativities. The Friedel Crafts reaction is a classic example of aluminum catalysis whereby aluminum trichloride serves as the catalyst and promotes either acylation or alkylation of an arene. Another popular use of aluminum takes advantage of its ability to transfer hydrides to electron deficient atoms. An entire portfolio of aluminum hydride reagents has been developed over the past several decades, though the use of these reagents is stoichiometric rather than catalytic in the case of aluminum chloride catalyzed reactions.
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