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Question

What are R group ? 


Solution

R group usually means an alkyl group.

Examples of alkyl groups are methyl (-CH3), ethyl (-CH2CH3), propyl (-CH2CH2CH3), butyl (-CH2CH2CH2CH3), etc.

Of course, apart from straight-chained alkyl groups, you can have branched alkyl groups; for instance, 2-methyl butyl (-C(CH3)) is a branched R group (imagine the middle carbon bonded to 3 methyl groups).

Why do we use R-groups?

R groups are a way of representing a class of organic compounds. For instance, alcohols are represented as R-OH, where OH is a functional group.

Thus, if we let R to be methyl or -CH3, R-OH simply represents methanol.

The study of how compounds interact with one another is represented using mechanisms. When the R group becomes large (eg 20 carbons), the use of R groups simplifies mechanisms by leaving out non-reactive part of the compounds.

Can R-groups involve non-carbon or non-hydrogen atoms?

Yes by common practice, though technically it shouldn't.

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