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Functional group

In organic chemistry, functional groups are specific groups ( moieties) of atoms or bonds within molecules that are responsible for the characteristic chemical reactions of those molecules. The same functional group will undergo the same or similar chemical reaction(s) regardless of the size of the molecule it is a part of. Compendium of Chemical Terminology (IUPAC "Gold Book") http://goldbook.iupac.org/F02555.html However, its relative reactivity can be modified by other functional groups nearby. The atoms of functional groups are linked to each other and to the rest of the molecule by covalent bonds. Functional groups can also be charged, e.g. in carboxylate salts (–COO−), which turns the molecule into a polyatomic ion or a complex ion. Functional groups binding to a central atom in a coordination complex are called ligands. Complexation and solvation is also caused by specific interactions of functional groups. In the common rule of thumb "like dissolves like", it is the shared or mutually well-interacting functional groups which give rise to solubility. For example, sugar dissolves in water because both share the hydroxyl functional group (–OH) and hydroxyls interact strongly with each other. Combining the names of functional groups with the names of the parent alkanes generates what is termed a systematic nomenclature for naming organic compounds. In traditional nomenclature, the first carbon atom after the carbon that attaches to the functional group is called the alpha carbon; the second, beta carbon, the third, gamma carbon, etc. If there is another functional group at a carbon, it may be named with the Greek letter, e.g., the gamma-amine in gamma-aminobutyric acid is on the third carbon of the carbon chain attached to the carboxylic acid group. IUPAC conventions call for numeric labeling of the position, e.g. 4-aminobutanoic acid. In traditional names various qualifiers are used to label isomers; for example, isopropanol (IUPAC name: propan-2-ol) is an isomer of n-propanol (propan-1-ol).

Table of common functional groups

The following is a list of common functional groups. In the formulas, the symbols R and R' usually denote an attached hydrogen, or a hydrocarbon side chain of any length, but may sometimes refer to any group of atoms.


Functional groups, called , that contain only carbon and hydrogen, but vary in the number and order of double bonds. Each one differs in type (and scope) of reactivity. There are also a large number of branched or ring alkanes that have specific names, e.g., tert-butyl, bornyl, cyclohexyl, etc. Hydrocarbons may form charged structures: positively charged carbocations or negative carbanions. Carbocations are often named -um. Examples are tropylium and triphenylmethyl cations and the cyclopentadienyl anion.

Groups containing halogen

Haloalkanes are a class of molecule that is defined by a carbon– halogen bond. This bond can be relatively weak (in the case of an iodoalkane) or quite stable (as in the case of a fluoroalkane). In general, with the exception of fluorinated compounds, haloalkanes readily undergo nucleophilic substitution reactions or elimination reactions. The substitution on the carbon, the acidity of an adjacent proton, the solvent conditions, etc. all can influence the outcome of the reactivity.

Groups containing oxygen

Compounds that contain C-O bonds each possess differing reactivity based upon the location and hybridization of the C-O bond, owing to the electron-withdrawing effect of sp-hybridized oxygen (carbonyl groups) and the donating effects of sp2-hybridized oxygen (alcohol groups).

Groups containing nitrogen

Compounds that contain nitrogen in this category may contain C-O bonds, such as in the case of amides.

Groups containing sulfur

Compounds that contain sulfur exhibit unique chemistry due to their ability to form more bonds than oxygen, their lighter analogue on the periodic table. Substitutive nomenclature (marked as prefix in table) is preferred over functional class nomenclature (marked as suffix in table) for sulfides, disulfides, sulfoxides and sulfones.

Groups containing phosphorus

Compounds that contain phosphorus exhibit unique chemistry due to their ability to form more bonds than nitrogen, their lighter analogues on the periodic table.

Groups containing boron

Compounds containing boron exhibit unique chemistry due to their having partially filled octets and therefore acting as Lewis acids.

Names of radicals or moieties

These names are used to refer to the moieties themselves or to radical species, and also to form the names of halides and substituents in larger molecules. When the parent hydrocarbon is unsaturated, the suffix ("-yl", "-ylidene", or "-ylidyne") replaces "-ane" (e.g. "ethane" becomes "ethyl"); otherwise, the suffix replaces only the final "-e" (e.g. " ethyne" becomes " ethynyl"). Note that when used to refer to moieties, multiple single bonds differ from a single multiple bond. For example, a methylene bridge (methanediyl) has two single bonds, whereas a methylene group (methylidene) has one double bond. Suffixes can be combined, as in methylidyne (triple bond) vs. methylylidene (single bond and double bond) vs. methanetriyl (three single bonds). There are some retained names, such as methylene for methanediyl, 1,x- phenylene for phenyl-1,x-diyl (where x is 2, 3, or 4), section P-56.2.1 carbyne for methylidyne, and trityl for triphenylmethyl.

See also


External links

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This article based upon the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Functional_group, the free encyclopaedia Wikipedia and is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.
Further informations available on the list of authors and history: http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Functional_group&action=history
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