Chapter 19 aldehydes and ketones nucleophilic addition reactions
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Chapter 19. Aldehydes and Ketones: Nucleophilic Addition Reactions. Based on McMurry’s Organic Chemistry , 6 th edition. Aldehydes and Ketones. Aldehydes and ketones are characterized by the the carbonyl functional group (C=O)

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Chapter 19. Aldehydes and Ketones: Nucleophilic Addition Reactions

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Chapter 19. Aldehydes and Ketones: Nucleophilic Addition Reactions

Based on McMurry’s Organic Chemistry, 6th edition

Aldehydes and Ketones

  • Aldehydes and ketones are characterized by the the carbonyl functional group (C=O)

  • The compounds occur widely in nature as intermediates in metabolism and biosynthesis

  • They are also common as chemicals, as solvents, monomers, adhesives, agrichemicals and pharmaceuticals

19.1 Naming Aldehydes and Ketones

  • Aldehydes are named by replacing the terminal -e of the corresponding alkane name with –al

  • The parent chain must contain the CHO group

    • The CHO carbon is numbered as C1

  • If the CHO group is attached to a ring, use the suffix See Table 19.1 for common names

Naming Ketones

  • Replace the terminal -e of the alkane name with –one

  • Parent chain is the longest one that contains the ketone group

    • Numbering begins at the end nearer the carbonyl carbon

Ketones with Common Names

  • IUPAC retains well-used but unsystematic names for a few ketones

Ketones and Aldehydes as Substituents

  • The R–C=O as a substituent is an acyl group is used with the suffix -yl from the root of the carboxylic acid

    • CH3CO: acetyl; CHO: formyl; C6H5CO: benzoyl

  • The prefix oxo- is used if other functional groups are present and the doubly bonded oxygen is labeled as a substituent on a parent chain

19.2 Preparation of Aldehydes and Ketones

  • Preparing Aldehydes

  • Oxidize primary alcohols using pyridinium chlorochromate

  • Reduce an ester with diisobutylaluminum hydride (DIBAH)

Preparing Ketones

  • Oxidize a 2° alcohol (see Section 17.8)

  • Many reagents possible: choose for the specific situation (scale, cost, and acid/base sensitivity)

Ketones from Ozonolysis

  • Ozonolysis of alkenes yields ketones if one of the unsaturated carbon atoms is disubstituted (see Section 7.8)

Aryl Ketones by Acylation

  • Friedel–Crafts acylation of an aromatic ring with an acid chloride in the presence of AlCl3 catalyst (see Section 16.4)

Methyl Ketones by Hydrating Alkynes

  • Hydration of terminal alkynes in the presence of Hg2+ (catalyst: Section 8.5)

19.3 Oxidation of Aldehydes and Ketones

  • CrO3 in aqueous acid oxidizes aldehydes to carboxylic acids efficiently

  • Silver oxide, Ag2O, in aqueous ammonia (Tollens’ reagent)oxidizes aldehydes (no acid)

Hydration of Aldehydes

  • Aldehyde oxidations occur through 1,1-diols (“hydrates”)

  • Reversible addition of water to the carbonyl group

  • Aldehyde hydrate is oxidized to a carboxylic acid by usual reagents for alcohols

Ketones Oxidize with Difficulty

  • Undergo slow cleavage with hot, alkaline KMnO4

  • C–C bond next to C=O is broken to give carboxylic acids

  • Reaction is practical for cleaving symmetrical ketones

19.4 Nucleophilic Addition Reactions of Aldehydes and Ketones

  • Nu- approaches 45° to the plane of C=O and adds to C

  • A tetrahedral alkoxide ion intermediate is produced


  • Nucleophiles can be negatively charged ( : Nu) or neutral ( : Nu) at the reaction site

  • The overall charge on the nucleophilic species is not considered

19.5 Relative Reactivity of Aldehydes and Ketones

  • Aldehydes are generally more reactive than ketones in nucleophilic addition reactions

  • The transition state for addition is less crowded and lower in energy for an aldehyde (a) than for a ketone (b)

  • Aldehydes have one large substituent bonded to the C=O: ketones have two

Electrophilicity of Aldehydes and Ketones

  • Aldehyde C=O is more polarized than ketone C=O

  • As in carbocations, more alkyl groups stabilize + character

  • Ketone has more alkyl groups, stabilizing the C=O carbon inductively

Reactivity of Aromatic Aldehydes

  • Less reactive in nucleophilic addition reactions than aliphatic aldehydes

  • Electron-donating resonance effect of aromatic ring makes C=O less reactive electrophilic than the carbonyl group of an aliphatic aldehyde

19.6 Nucleophilic Addition of H2O: Hydration

  • Aldehydes and ketones react with water to yield 1,1-diols (geminal (gem) diols)

  • Hyrdation is reversible: a gem diol can eliminate water

Relative Energies

  • Equilibrium generally favors the carbonyl compound over hydrate for steric reasons

    • Acetone in water is 99.9% ketone form

  • Exception: simple aldehydes

    • In water, formaldehyde consists is 99.9% hydrate

Base-Catalyzed Addition of Water

  • Addition of water is catalyzed by both acid and base

  • The base-catalyzed hydration nucleophile is the hydroxide ion, which is a much stronger nucleophile than water

Acid-Catalyzed Addition of Water

  • Protonation of C=O makes it more electrophilic

Addition of H-Y to C=O

  • Reaction of C=O with H-Y, where Y is electronegative, gives an addition product (“adduct”)

  • Formation is readily reversible

19.7 Nucleophilic Addition of HCN: Cyanohydrin Formation

  • Aldehydes and unhindered ketones react with HCN to yield cyanohydrins, RCH(OH)CN

Mechanism of Formation of Cyanohydrins

  • Addition of HCN is reversible and base-catalyzed, generating nucleophilic cyanide ion, CN

  • Addition of CN to C=O yields a tetrahedral intermediate, which is then protonated

  • Equilibrium favors adduct

Uses of Cyanohydrins

  • The nitrile group (CN) can be reduced with LiAlH4 to yield a primary amine (RCH2NH2)

  • Can be hydrolyzed by hot acid to yield a carboxylic acid

19.8 Nucleophilic Addition of Grignard Reagents and Hydride Reagents: Alcohol Formation

  • Treatment of aldehydes or ketones with Grignard reagents yields an alcohol

    • Nucleophilic addition of the equivalent of a carbon anion, or carbanion. A carbon–magnesium bond is strongly polarized, so a Grignard reagent reacts for all practical purposes as R :MgX +.

Mechanism of Addition of Grignard Reagents

  • Complexation of C=O by Mg2+, Nucleophilic addition of R :,protonation by dilute acid yields the neutral alcohol

  • Grignard additions are irreversible because a carbanion is not a leaving group

Hydride Addition

  • Convert C=O to CH-OH

  • LiAlH4 and NaBH4 react as donors of hydride ion

  • Protonation after addition yields the alcohol

19.9 Nucleophilic Addition of Amines: Imine and Enamine Formation

RNH2 adds to C=O to form imines, R2C=NR (after loss of HOH)

R2NH yields enamines, R2NCR=CR2 (after loss of HOH)

(ene + amine = unsaturated amine)

Mechanism of Formation of Imines

  • Primary amine adds to C=O

  • Proton is lost from N and adds to O to yield a neutral amino alcohol (carbinolamine)

  • Protonation of OH converts into water as the leaving group

  • Result is iminium ion, which loses proton

  • Acid is required for loss of OH – too much acid blocks RNH2

Note that overall reaction is substitution of RN for O

Imine Derivatives

  • Addition of amines with an atom containing a lone pair of electrons on the adjacent atom occurs very readily, giving useful, stable imines

  • For example, hydroxylamine forms oximes and 2,4-dinitrophenylhydrazine readily forms 2,4-dinitrophenylhydrazones

    • These are usually solids and help in characterizing liquid ketones or aldehydes by melting points

Enamine Formation

  • After addition of R2NH, proton is lost from adjacent carbon

19.10 Nucleophilic Addition of Hydrazine: The Wolff–Kishner Reaction

  • Treatment of an aldehyde or ketone with hydrazine, H2NNH2 and KOH converts the compound to an alkane

  • Originally carried out at high temperatures but with dimethyl sulfoxide as solvent takes place near room temperature

See Figure 19.11 for a mechanism

19.11 Nucleophilic Addition of Alcohols: Acetal Formation

  • Two equivalents of ROH in the presence of an acid catalyst add to C=O to yield acetals, R2C(OR)2

  • These can be called ketals if derived from a ketone

Formation of Acetals

  • Alcohols are weak nucleophiles but acid promotes addition forming the conjugate acid of C=O

  • Addition yields a hydroxy ether, called a hemiacetal (reversible); further reaction can occur

  • Protonation of the OH and loss of water leads to an oxonium ion, R2C=OR+ to which a second alcohol adds to form the acetal

Uses of Acetals

  • Acetals can serve as protecting groups for aldehydes and ketones

  • It is convenient to use a diol, to form a cyclic acetal (the reaction goes even more readily)

19.12 Nucleophilic Addition of Phosphorus Ylides: The Wittig Reaction

  • The sequence converts C=O is to C=C

  • A phosphorus ylide adds to an aldehyde or ketone to yield a dipolar intermediate called a betaine

  • The intermediate spontaneously decomposes through a four-membered ring to yield alkene and triphenylphosphine oxide, (Ph)3P=O

  • Formation of the ylide is shown below

A Note on the Word “Betaines”

  • The term “betaines” is an extension from a specific substance (betaine) that has permanent + and – charges (as in a zwitterion) that cannot be neutralized by proton transfers (as in normal amino acids). Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary lists: Betaine \Be"ta*ine\, n. [Frombeta, genericname of thebeet.] (Chem.) A nitrogenousbase, {C5H11NO2}, producedartificially, andalsooccurringnaturally in beet-rootmolassesanditsresidues. The listed pronunciation indicates it has the exact same emphasis as “cocaine”.

  • Cocaine \Co"ca*ine\, n. (Chem.) A powerfulalkaloid, {C17H21NO4}, obtainedfromtheleaves of coca

  • So – if you say “co-ca-een” (as this dictionary suggests) then you would also say “bee-ta-een”. If you sat “co-cayn” then say “beet-ayn”.

  • Whatever you say, the “beta” in “betaine” refers to beets and not a letter in the Greek alphabet. There have been a lot of wagers on this over the years.


Uses of the Wittig Reaction

  • Can be used for monosubstituted, disubstituted, and trisubstituted alkenes but not tetrasubstituted alkenes The reaction yields a pure alkene of known structure

  • For comparison, addition of CH3MgBr to cyclohexanone and dehydration with, yields a mixture of two alkenes

Mechanism of the Wittig Reaction

19.13 The Cannizzaro Reaction: Biological Reductions

  • The adduct of an aldehyde and OH cantransfer hydride ionto another aldehyde C=O resulting in a simultaneous oxidation and reduction (disproportionation)

The Biological Analogue of the Canizzaro Reaction

  • Enzymes catalyze the reduction of aldehydes and ketones using NADH as the source of the equivalent of H-

  • The transfer resembles that in the Cannizzaro reaction but the carbonyl of the acceptor is polarized by an acid from the enzyme, lowering the barrier

Enzymes are chiral and the reactions are stereospecific. The stereochemistry depends on the particular enzyme involved.

19.14 Conjugate Nucleophilic Addition to ,b-Unsaturated Aldehydes and Ketones

  • A nucleophile can add to the C=C double bond of an ,b-unsaturated aldehyde or ketone (conjugate addition, or 1,4 addition)

  • The initial product is a resonance-stabilized enolate ion, which is then protonated

Conjugate Addition of Amines

  • Primary and secondary amines add to , b-unsaturated aldehydes and ketones to yield b-amino aldehydes and ketones

Conjugate Addition of Alkyl Groups: Organocopper Reactions

  • Reaction of an , b-unsaturated ketone with a lithium diorganocopper reagent

  • Diorganocopper (Gilman) reagents from by reaction of 1 equivalent of cuprous iodide and 2 equivalents of organolithium

  • 1, 2, 3 alkyl, aryl and alkenyl groups react but not alkynyl groups

Mechanism of Alkyl Conjugate Addition

  • Conjugate nucleophilic addition of a diorganocopper anion, R2Cu, an enone

  • Transfer of an R group and elimination of a neutral organocopper species, RCu

19.15 Biological Nucleophilic Addition Reactions

  • Example: Many enzyme reactions involve pyridoxal phosphate (PLP), a derivative of vitamin B6, as a co-catalyst

  • PLP is an aldehyde that readily forms imines from amino groups of substrates, such as amino acids

  • The imine undergoes a proton shift that leads to the net conversion of the amino group of the substrate into a carbonyl group

19.16 Spectroscopy of Aldehydes and Ketones

  • Infrared Spectroscopy

  • Aldehydes and ketones show a strong C=O peak 1660 to 1770 cm1

  • aldehydes show two characteristic C–H absorptions in the 2720 to 2820 cm1 range.

C=O Peak Position in the IR Spectrum

  • The precise position of the peak reveals the exact nature of the carbonyl group

NMR Spectra of Aldehydes

  • Aldehyde proton signals are at  10 in 1H NMR - distinctive spin–spin coupling with protons on the neighboring carbon, J 3 Hz

Protons on Carbons Adjacent to C=O

  • Slightly deshielded and normally absorb near  2.0 to 2.3

  • Methyl ketones always show a sharp three-proton singlet near  2.1

13C NMR of C=O

  • C=O signal is at  190 to  215

  • No other kinds of carbons absorb in this range

Mass Spectrometry – McLafferty Rearrangement

  • Aliphatic aldehydes and ketones that have hydrogens on their gamma () carbon atoms rearrange as shown

Mass Spectroscopy: -Cleavage

  • Cleavage of the bond between the carbonyl group and the  carbon

  • Yields a neutral radical and an oxygen-containing cation

Enantioselective Synthesis

  • Whena chiral product is formed achiral reagents, we get both enantiomers in equal amounts - the transition states are mirror images and are equal in energy

  • However, if the reaction is subject to catalysis, a chiral catalyst can create a lower energy pathway for one enantiomer - called an enantionselective synthesis

  • Reaction of benzaldehyde with diethylzinc with a chiral titanium-containing catalyst, gives 97% of the S product and only 3% of the R


  • Aldehydes are from oxidative cleavage of alkenes, oxidation of 1° alcohols, or partial reduction of esters

  • Ketones are from oxidative cleavage of alkenes, oxidation of 2° alcohols, or by addition of diorganocopper reagents to acid chlorides.

  • Aldehydes and ketones are reduced to yield 1° and 2° alcohols , respectively

  • Grignard reagents also gives alcohols

  • Addition of HCN yields cyanohydrins

  • 1° amines add to form imines, and 2° amines yield enamines

  • Reaction of an aldehyde or ketone with hydrazine and base yields an alkane

  • Alcohols add to yield acetals

  • Phosphoranes add to aldehydes and ketones to give alkenes (the Wittig reaction)

  • -Unsaturated aldehydes and ketones are subject to conjugate addition (1,4 addition)

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