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CHEM 125A: FRESHMAN ORGANIC CHEMISTRY II - Lecture 6 - Professor J. Michael McBride

Brønsted Acidity and the Generality of Nucleophilic Substitution

The coincidentally substantial extent of ionic dissociation of water provides an example of Brønsted acidity, or nucleophilic substitution at hydrogen. Relative pKa values are insensitive enough to solvent that they provide insight on the role of energy-match, overlap, and resonance in ionic dissociation. The titration of alanine in water illustrates the experimental determination of pKa values and the phenomenon of buffering. The limited pKa scale in water can be extended dramatically by titration in other solvents, providing one of the best ways to measure many "effects" in organic chemistry. A wide range of important organic reactions discovered in the 19th century and many biochemical reactions can be understood under the rubric of nucleophilic substitution.

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