SN1 vs SN2

I have not long been back from Oxford in the UK where I was running a revision course for OSC. One of the concepts that the students seemed needing clarifying was when to decide when an organic reaction was SN1 or SN2 so I thought it may be worth sharing this with you in this blog post: First of all, some definitions. S = Substitution (there are other types of mechanisms out there such as elimination and addition.) N = Nucleophilic (it is ...

SN1 or SN2 – what do the numbers mean?

Chances are, as a teacher or a student you will come across these terms (SN1 or SN2) in the teaching of IB Chemistry. They come up on a number of occasions in the organic chemistry part of the course (at Core, Higher or Option level). As a student, I was happy with the SN part - 'S' meant substitution - quite self explanatory, you swap one thing with another. 'N' was a little more difficult but I could get my head ...