Henry Rzepa's Blog Chemistry with a twist

September 22, 2009

Capturing penta-coordinate carbon! (Part 1).

The bimolecular nucleophilic substitution reaction at saturated carbon is an icon of organic chemistry, and is better known by its mechanistic label, SN2. It is normally a slow reaction, with half lives often measured in hours. This implies a significant barrier to reaction (~15-20 kcal/mol) for the transition state, shown below (X is normally both a good nucleophile and a good nucleofuge/leaving group, such as halide, cyanide, etc.  Y can have a wide variety of forms).

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