Discover the most important named reactions

Today, named chemical reactions play a crucial role in organic synthesis, which continues to grow in its ability to construct ever more complex and diverse chemical molecules.

The first named reaction in organic synthesis, the Lieben Haloform Reaction, had its origin in 1822 when Serullas found that iodine crystals dissolved in a mixture of alkali and ethanol yielded a yellow precipitate which he called ‘hydroiodide of carbon’, today we know this as iodoform (CHI3).

Knoevenagel reaction scheme

Source: © Thermo Fisher

The Knoevenagel condensation is one of the most well known named reactions

In 1870, A. Lieben studied the reaction of many carbonyl compounds with iodine and alkali, and postulated rules that formed the basis for the iodoform test. Before spectroscopic methods became widely available for structural identification, the iodoform test helped identify the structure of many organic molecules.

To this day, many new chemical reactions are being reported and named after their discoverers in recognition of their valuable contribution to synthetic organic chemistry.

Visit our reaction categories for details on the history, applications, and mechanisms of key named reactions, and don’t forget to vote for your favorite below:

  • Electrophilic aromatic substitution reactions
    • Friedel-Crafts akylation and acylation, Fries rearrangement, Gattermann-Gattermann-Koch formylation, and Houben-Hoesch synthesis
  • Nucleophilic substitution reactions
    • Gabriel synthesis, Mitsunobu reaction, Baeyer-Villiger oxidation, Swern oxidation, and Tishchenko reaction
  • Heterocycle formation
    • Fischer indole synthesis, Hantzsch dihydropyridine synthesis, Knorr pyrrole synthesis, Pictet-Spengler tetrahydroisoquinoline synthesis, Pomeranz-Fritsch reaction
  • Transition metal-catalyzed couplings
    • Heck reaction, Negishi cross-coupling reaction, Stille cross-coupling reaction, Suzuki cross-coupling reaction, Ullmann reaction
  • Oxidation
    • Dess-Martin oxidation, Jones oxidation, Oppenauer oxidation, Rubottom oxidation, Sharpless asymmetric epoxidation
  • Reactions involving carbonyl compounds
    • Grignard reaction, Knoevenagel condensation, Mannich reaction, Reformatsky reaction, and Wittig reaction

Vote here for your favorite named reaction or to submit your details to be informed of future categories as they are added.

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Upcoming organic synthesis reaction categories:

  • Electrophilic addition
  • Pericyclic reactions
  • Photochemical reactions
  • Radical reactions
  • Rearrangements
  • Reductions

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