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how can we confirm that a reaction is SN1 or SN2.EXPLAIN WITH AN EXAMPLE.

how can we confirm that a reaction is SN1 or SN2.EXPLAIN WITH AN EXAMPLE.

Grade:11

1 Answers

SAGAR SINGH - IIT DELHI
879 Points
10 years ago

Dear student,

Nucleophilic Substitution (SN1
SN2)

Nucleophilic substitution is the reaction of an electron pair donor (the nucleophile, Nu) with an electron pair acceptor (the electrophile). An sp3-hybridized electrophile must have a leaving group (X) in order for the reaction to take place.


Mechanism of Nucleophilic Substitution

The term SN2 means that two molecules are involved in the actual transition state:

The departure of the leaving group occurs simultaneously with the backside attack by the nucleophile. The SN2 reaction thus leads to a predictable configuration of the stereocenter - it proceeds with inversion (reversal of the configuration).

In the SN1 reaction, a planar carbenium ion is formed first, which then reacts further with the nucleophile. Since the nucleophile is free to attack from either side, this reaction is associated with racemization.

In both reactions, the nucleophile competes with the leaving group. Because of this, one must realize what properties a leaving group should have, and what constitutes a good nucleophile. For this reason, it is worthwhile to know which factors will determine whether a reaction follows an SN1 or SN2 pathway.

Very good leaving groups, such as triflate, tosylate and mesylate, stabilize an incipient negative charge. The delocalization of this charge is reflected in the fact that these ions are not considered to be nucleophilic.

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