Chapter 9 Free Radical Substitution Reaction of Alkanes

Generally speaking, alkane is the type of compound that is inert to most organic reactions. There are only C-C and C-H σ bonds involved in the structure of alkanes. σ bond is formed by head-to-head orbital overlapping, the most effective way of overlapping, that makes the bond strong and stable. Furthermore, both C-C and C-H bonds are non-polar, so none of the atoms has any significant charges, that means no nucleophile nor electrophile possible in alkanes. Overall, alkanes are rather unreactive compounds, and they rarely undergo any organic reactions. One exception is the reaction we will learn in this chapter, that is halogenation substitution via radical mechanism. We will first talk about how to produce radical, and then see radicals promote the substitution reaction of alkanes.


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