Electrophile and nucleophile are the chemical species that donate or accept electrons to form a new chemical bond. A nucleophile is a chemical species which, in relation to a response, gives an electron pair to form a chemical bond. Any molecule, ion or atom that is in some manner deficient in electron can act as an electrophile.
A nucleophile is usually negatively charged or neutral with a lone pair of electrons. H2O, -OMe or -OtBu are some examples. Overall, the electron-rich species is a nucleophile. Electrophiles are generally positively charged or neutral species with empty orbitals attracted to a centre rich in electrons.
The chemical reactions happening between electron donors and acceptors are described by concepts like electrophile and nucleophile. These are the most important concepts in organic chemistry. They have replaced cationoid and anionoid terms and were introduced in the year 1933.
What is Electrophile?
Positively charged or neutral species are called electrophiles that are deficient in electrons and can accept a pair of electrons. These are also called species that love electrons (philic).
- The term electrophile can be split into “electro” derived from electron and “phile” which means loving.
- They are electron deficient and hence love to accept electrons (electrons loving).
- They are positively charged or neutral.
- They attract electrons. The movement of electrons depends on the density.
- They move from high-density area to low density area.
- They undergo electrophilic addition and electrophilic substitution reactions.
- An electrophile is also called Lewis acid.
What is Nucleophile?
A nucleophile is a reagent comprising an negative charge or lone pair of electrons. As a nucleophile is rich in electron, it looks for electron-deficient locations. Nucleophiles act as Lewis bases, i.e, species which can donate a pair of electrons.
- The term nucleophile can be split into “nucleo” derived from the nucleus and “phile” which means loving.
- They are electron-rich and hence nucleus loving. They are negatively charged or neutral.
- They donate electrons.
- The movement of electrons depends on the density.
- They move from low-density area to high-density area.
- They undergo nucleophilic addition and nucleophilic substitution reactions.
- A nucleophile is also called a Lewis base.
For example, as nitrogen is less electronegative than oxygen, ammonia is a stronger nucleophile than water. The lone pair of electrons on nitrogen in ammonia can be more easily given than the lone pair of electrons on oxygen in the water.
To make you understand how electrophile and nucleophile are different from each other, here are some major differences between atom and ion:
Difference between Electrophile and Nucleophile
|Also called Lewis acid||Also called Lewis base|
|They are positively charged / neutral||They are negatively charged / neutral|
|They undergo electrophilic addition and electrophilic substitution reactions||They undergo nucleophilic addition and nucleophilic substitution reactions|
|It accepts a pair of an electron to form a covalent bond||It donates a pair of an electron to form a covalent bond|
|All carbocations are electrophiles.||All carbanions are nucleophiles.|
|Example: Hydronium Ion, methyl carbocation.||Example: Chloride Ion, methyl carbanion.|
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Frequently Asked Questions – FAQs
What is an electrophile?
What are nucleophiles?
Give examples for electrophiles.
Give examples for nucleophiles.
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