Organic Chemistry: Pericyclic Reactions

In chemistry, many reactions are simple, intuitive, and straight forward. Others can fool the uninformed. Organic pericyclic reactions are included among the latter. To illustrate this, we consider two reactions. The first is a simple esterification reaction, leading to the obvious product. The second is a pericyclic reaction. The Esterification Reacting an alcohol with a carboxylic acid generally produces a simple ester. So in the presence of a dehydrating agent, one can react ethyl alcohol with acetic acid, to get the ester ethyl acetate plus water. CH₃COOH + HO-C₂H₅ → CH₃COO-C₂H₅ + H₂O Organic Pericyclic Reactions CH₃-CH=CH-CH=CH-CH=CH-CH₃ → two possible ring structures The illustration in Fig. 1 shows a straight chain organic hydrocarbon converting into one of two cyclic structures, depending upon the source of energy. The input energy, whether heat…
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