Posts Tagged "organic chemistry"

Formation of Enols and Enolates

Posted on April 3rd, 2018

One question that comes up in organic chemistry often is “what is an enol or an enolate and how is it formed?”  These types of concepts are frequently covered quickly in class or not at all, but are very important for future reaction mechanisms.  We at Study Orgo have the combined experience of over 15 years of tutoring and teaching organic chemistry concepts to struggling students.  We have developed clear descriptions of reaction mechanisms and organic chemistry concepts to aid students in their studies.  Sign up today for access to over 180 reactions mechanisms and reviews!

The alpha carbon of a carbonyl, which is present in carboxylic acids, esters, ketones and aldehydes, are acidic which means the proton can be removed using a base.  In neutral or acidic conditions, this means the lone pairs on the C=O position can act as a weak nucleophile.

If the carbonyl oxygen can attack the alpha carbon C-H bond, it will abstract the hydrogen and perform a Keto-Enol tautomerization reaction that will lead to the resonance version of the carbonyl, which is the Enol (alkENE + alcohOL)

Enols – rearranging the pi bond and atoms of a carbonyl compound to an Enol

Catalyist: Acidic or Neutral Conditions to stabilize OH formation

Enols tautomers are generally unstable, preferring the “Keto” version 90-99% of the time versus the “Enol” version.  However, a catalytic amount of presence is sometimes enough to drive reactions forward if the mechanism requires the enol tautomer of the compound.

However, in some cases such as a beta diketone, shown below, the combined dipoles of two carbonyls makes the alpha carbon very acidic, meaning enol formation is very favorable.  In this case, it is 70-90% enol in solution.


Enolates – Deprotonating the alpha carbon and tautomerizing to the oxyanion

Catalyist: Strong Base to deprotonate the alpha carbon.

Like an Sn2 mechanism, a strong enough base will react with the acidic proton on the alpha carbon and deprotonate.  The electron density between the C-H bond will shift to make a new C=C bond, while the C=O electrons will be placed on the oxygen, creating and alkENE + alcohOL anion “ATE”) with a strong base to produce a stable carbanion.  The stability is due to the tautomerized structure that can be produced by placing the negative charge on the oxygen.


Enolates are generally forward reactions depending on the strength of the base.  How strong the base required depends on the pKa of the alpha C-H bond.  In the case of ketones, a strong base like LDA is required.  However, for beta dikeontes, a mild base like NaOH is enough to generate the enolate.


Formation of Enols and Enolates are an important source of carbon nucleophiles to make new C-C bonds in future reactions.

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How do you to tell when a hydrogen bond will occur?

Posted on March 7th, 2018

Hydrogen bonding is important for describing the driving force of reactions in organic chemistry and a very important concept for explaining the biochemistry of catalytic reactions that occur using protein as enzymes in biological systems.  In this post, we will discuss the rules and examples of hydrogen bond formation.  We at StudyOrgo have extensive experience instructing principles and reaction mechanisms frequently covered in Organic Chemistry. Sign up today for clear, detailed explanations of over 180 Orgo Chem reactions and reviews on conceptual topics!

Physical properties of molecules such as boiling and melting point, solubility and reactivity, are affected by the functional groups that make up the molecule. This can be explained by analyzing the type of intermolecular forces that are experienced between molecules.  Because these forces are not covalent, intermolecular forces are determined by the intensity of electrostatic forces which is what makes up each type of intermolecular force. As a review, the types of intermolecular forces are;

  • Van der Waals (London dispersion forces) – Weak, temporary dipole formed between hydrophobic C-H and C-C bonds.
  • Dipole-Dipole Interactions: – Strong, permanent dipole moments formed between atoms of functional groups containing bonds such as C=O, C=N, C-O, C-N, N-H and O-H bonds. The delta(-) side of one dipole is attracted to the delta(+) side of another molecule, forming a non-covalent electrostatic attraction.
  • Hydrogen Bonding: Sharing sharing of a hydrogen atom covalently attached to an electronegative element (typically O-H and N-H groups) between a lone pair of electrons on another electronegative element.

Two terms about hydrogen bonding that are key are;

  • The electronegative atom with the lone pair electrons is called the Hydrogen Bond Acceptor
  • The electronegative atom bonded to the hydrogen is called the Hydrogen Bond Donor
  • The Hydrogen Bond Donor must be aligned 180 degrees to the Hydrogen Bond Donor!

The more intermolecular forces the molecule has, the more energy will be required to disrupt these bonds when melting or boiling compounds, thus raising the observed temperatures from expected relative to their mass.  In addition, hydrogen bonds require polar bonds in the molecule and H-Bond Donor proton involved is protic (a donatable hydrogen atom). These are two terms that you will learn in the Sn1 mechanism.

Let’s look at ethanol as an example.  The hydrogen bonding occurs between the proton of one alcohol group and the oxygen lone pair electrons on another alcohol group.  This is a strong intermolecular force that holds the molecule in a complex 3D shape and makes it easier in reactions to attack the carbon connected to the O-H bond due to inductive effects, or the pulling of electrons away from the carbon.  Water is an extreme example, where all the atoms in the molecule participate in hydrogen bonding.  The oxygen lone pairs will accept a hydrogen from a neighboring molecule O-H.  Finally, acetic acid is another example.  Remember, that the H-Bond Acceptor can be any lone pairs, including those of C=O bonds.


These concepts are really important to understanding the more complex topics to come. With a membership to StudyOrgo, you will get even more tips and tricks on organic chemistry topics and detailed mechanisms with explanations.  Today’s blog is a preview of the detailed topics and materials available.

Preparing for Organic Chemistry This Fall

Posted on August 5th, 2017

One of the questions we are repeatedly asked at StudyOrgo is “how do I to get ahead in organic chemistry this fall semester?” Many of you have heard that organic chemistry is a brutal class that does little but to depress your GPA. While it is true that this course is challenging, we here at StudyOrgo are devoted to helping you get the “A” you deserve!

Organic chemistry gets a bad name because it assumes that you are experts with regards to all of the general chemistry from freshman year, and you are now responsible to know it!  As an analogy, think of your chemistry courses as a pyramid to reaching your degree goals.  Organic chemistry is directly placed in the middle of the pyramid, it will be very important not only for the MCAT or DAT exams, but also for future advanced courses.  Organic chemistry is supported by General Chemistry, which is why you took it last year.  Fortunately, StudyOrgo is placed in the center of your pyramid base and we are here to help all of your organic chemistry questions.  Our simple and clear-cut explanations of reaction mechanisms and concepts will easily help you with anything you might struggle with this semester.  Here are a few tips on how to prepare today for the course this Fall.

chemistry pyramid

  • Open your text book –Read the title and abstract on the first page of each chapter and check out the number of pages. It will give you a very quick idea of what you will be learning about in each chapter and how much material you will be covering.
  • Look at a syllabus – Remember, your syllabus is an official contract between you and the professor. They must disclose what you are required to learn and how you will be graded. Professors can remove requirements but cannot easily add them. Use this to your advantage! Highlight the contents or reactions of the book that will be required and use this to focus your attention on while studying over the semester.
  • Schedule your studying! – Now that you know where the book is and a rough idea of what you are responsible for learning from the syllabus, take a calendar and divide the time you have to each test by the number of chapters. Schedule 2-3 hours a week to study and DON’T SKIP OR RESCHEDULE. Think of it as a doctor or dentist appointment – you just have to do it! Also, if you plan your studying ahead, you will be less likely to schedule something that gets in the way because you will already have penciled it in! Use your Smartphone calendar to send you alerts and reminders for your studying appointment.
  • Read ahead – If you have time this summer, read at least two chapters to get yourself ahead of the class. Don’t try to understand everything, just pay attention to the words used and the ideas. This will allow you to pay more attention and ask questions about the details in class instead of scrambling to write down notes and drawings.
  • Sign up with StudyOrgo – The Editors at StudyOrgo have spent numerous hours reviewing and preparing the material in the most crystal-clear and “get-to-the-point” manner as possible. We consult students and ask for their opinion on whether they understand the material as presented. We provide quick descriptions and in-depth mechanism explanations. Many of our reaction have multiple examples, so you can learn and then quiz yourself in our website! For the student on-the-go, we have also developed a mobile app (iOS and Android) provides all the functionality of the website! All of these benefits are included in your StudyOrgo membership!

With a little time management and help from StudyOrgo, you will have no trouble getting an “A” in Organic Chemistry this year!

How can I tell if a hydrogen is a wedge or a dash in a chair skeleton?

Posted on March 19th, 2017


“How can I tell if a hydrogen is a wedge or a dash in a chair skeleton?”

Here at StudyOrgo, we frequently get questions about topics in organic chemistry that are usually quickly covered, poorly described or expected that you know from previous courses.  These concepts are really important to understanding the more complex topics to come.  In this article, we will cover the concepts of stereochemistry descriptions using bold and wedged bonds.  This is just a preview of the detailed topics and materials available with your membership to  Sign up today!

The first thing we have to do is determine is how you want to orient you molecule.  Let’s take (1R, 2R) 1,2-dimethylcyclohexane for example.  If we orient the molecule to have the methyl groups on the right side, we see that we have two stereocenters available.  But the current drawing doesn’t indicate the stereochemistry yet.  That’s what the bold and hashed bonds will indicate.

Next, we have to visualize the cyclohexane ring in the chair conformation.  Remember, that the skeleton image shown above is more conveniently drawn, but loses the 3rd dimension information, so you have to put it back in the chair to determine which should be bolded and which should be wedge.

Next, we have to confirm that that the stereochemistry is correct.  To do this, you need to practice selecting most important substituents and rotating to assign stereochemistry.  Follow along with the examples below, using the blue and pink carbons shown.

At this point, you should be able to see how the hashed and bolded bonds are now appropriately drawn.  The pink stereocenter will be bolded, suggesting it is above the plane of the ring and the blue stereocenter will be hashed, suggesting it is below the plane.  Drawing the Newman Projection down the red bond shows that the methyl groups are “anti” to each other, making this a stable conformation.



Intermolecular Forces Review

Posted on September 5th, 2016

Studying ahead for Organic Chemistry this Fall semester is a good way for reaching and maintaining a great grade in this class.  Most students find the pace of this class very challenging compared to other courses.  This is because while there is a lot of information to learn, it also builds on previous concepts from general chemistry, a course most students want to forget!

But don’t worry!  StudyOrgo has you covered.  Our Editors have spent years tutoring and teaching Organic Chemistry to students and we have seen all of the pitfalls common to the first few weeks of the semester.  Our online platform allows members to learn organic chemistry concepts and mechanisms quickly and the material presented in an easy-to-follow format. Follow along with us and sign up with StudyOrgo today to help prepare you for all of your Organic Chemistry questions.

One of the concepts you will need to have mastered before you  begin the class is Intermolecular Forces.

Permanent covalent bonds hold atoms together by electrostatic interactions between atoms. But these bonds can be very different. As such, molecules are held together by electrostatic forces between the molecules built upon the type of covalent and ionic bonds in the molecule.  These interactions have been characterized on the electronegativity difference between the types of atoms in the molecule and are classified as three different types

  1. Dipole-Dipole Interactions

These intermolecular forces are the result of electronegativity differences between the atoms that result in the amount of net electron density around each atomic bond.  In order to talk about these forces, a few definitions are necessary.  Let’s take acetic acid as an example.  It has one C-O bond and one C=O bond.  The result of the electronegativity difference is that the amount of electron density on carbon is reduced significantly as a result of the C-O bonds.  This leads to an overall reduction in electron density on carbon, a delta positive charge (blue color of orbital), and a gain of electron density on the oxygens, a delta negative charge (red color of orbital).  There is no real “charge” but the probability of electron density is higher around the oxygens, making them appear to have extra electrons, like an anion would have.  The “flow” of this electron density results in the formation of a dipole, which makes up a polar covalent bond.

figure 1

Polar covalent bonds will interact with each other (red dipoles) in the “like-dissolves-like” concept you learned in organic chemistry.  The dipoles will interact with each other, the delta positive of one molecule will interact with the delta-negative of another molecule to create a dipole interation.

figure 2

  1. Hydrogen Bonds

When there is a hydrogen atom bonded to an element with lone pairs of electrons, it is possible for the delta positive hydrogen (the hydrogen bond donor) of one molecule to interact with the lone pair of electrons on another molecule (the hydrogen bond acceptor).

figure 2

This can happen for any molecules in solution, therefore protic solvents (such as ethanol) can form hydrogen bonds with itself while aprotic solvents (such as methylether) cannot. The result is easily seen in boiling point, which is 78C for ethanol but -23C for methylether.  One rule is that hydrogen bonds must be planar to the hydrogen donor an acceptor, so there are some constraints on structure.  This is what gives DNA its helical shape, which you will encounter in another course.

figure 5

  1. London-Dispersion Forces

These obscure forces are best described as very weak, very temporary dipole moments between non-polar covalent bonds.  Let’s look at butane, an alkane.  There is a temporary flow of electrons between each C-C bond and for an instant, a net dipole between each C-C bond.  This allows for temporary interaction with a neighbor molecule that has the opposite temporary dipole, and so on.  The effect is thousands of weak dipole interactions that add up to a large force, and the basis for what we refer to as hydrophobic interactions.

figure 4