Organic Chemistry: What is Ring Strain?

[caption id="attachment_16313" align="alignright" width="440"] Cyclopropane suffers from ring strain.[/caption] Carbon ring strain? What is that? Let's begin at the beginning. The element carbon is one of a small number of elements that can bond to itself repeatedly. Compare gases such as oxygen (O2), called diatomic gases because generally only two atoms unite. Oxygen is exceptional in that it does form the triatomic molecule, ozone (O3). However, carbon can form even lengthy chains. Thus, carbon can form, not only methane (CH4), but ethane (H3C-CH3), propane (H3C-CH2-CH3), butane (H3C-CH2-CH2-CH3), pentane (H3C-CH2-CH2-CH2-CH3), and so on. Curiously, carbon can also close those chains to form rings, much as a woman can close a string of pearls about her neck using a clasp. [sc name="MidArticleAdsense"] Cyclization Although methane cannot so close, nor can ethane, the…
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