Danielle has taught middle school science and has a doctorate degree in Environmental Health
Who is Victor Grignard?
Born in 1871, Francois August Victor Grignard, who we will refer to as Victor Grignard, spent his life dedicated to the field of organic chemistry. A French chemist, he was very curious about the relationship between metals and organic compounds.
Could it be possible that a metal can lead to the formation of carbon-carbon bonds? Well, this curiosity along with years of research work led to the fascinating discovery of organometallic compounds also known as Grignard reagents. I know, I know, organo-metalla-what? Don't be alarmed by the word. It simply means you have a compound that contains a carbon atom bonded to a metal. An example of this compound is shown below.
Regarded as a game changer in the field of organic chemistry, it is estimated that more than 6,000 papers have referenced Victor's steps used to make the Grignard Reagent. Now that is what we can call one famous ingredient!.
History of the Grignard Reaction
Mentioned earlier, we saw that Victor Grignard was very interested in the relationship between metals and organic compounds. He didn't pick just any organic compound. Rather, he specifically chose a compound that contained a mix of carbon and hydrogen atoms, along with one halogen atom. If you look at group 17 of the periodic table, you will find halogen atoms such as chlorine and iodine. An example of the compound Victor used is shown.
Just as picky as he was about choosing an organic compound, he felt the same way about the metal. He didn't choose just any metal. Rather he picked magnesium metals. But why magnesium? These metals are reactive. That is, they really enjoy mingling with compounds and atoms.
Studying the reaction between magnesium metal and bromoalkanes, Victor Grignard realized something happened when you add a liquid solution, or solvent, to the pot. Illustrated in reaction #1, shown below, ether was the solvent used. To note, ether is a compound that contains an oxygen atom bonded to two different molecules. Poof! Not only did the magnesium metal dissolve, the container got toasty warm and the solution turned dark gray.
After seeing this result Victor began to think, 'what would happen if you throw in an aldehyde or ketone?' Aldehyde and ketones can be thought of as siblings. Both contain a carbonyl group which is a carbon atom double bonded to an oxygen atom. Aldehydes are molecules that contain a carbonyl group single bonded to a hydrogen atom. Its brother, ketone is a carbonyl group single bonded to a molecule or atom.
Grabbing his container with magnesium metal and the ether solvent, Victor added a ketone or aldehyde. This is illustrated in reaction #2 as shown. Not only did the container become toasty warm but a solid light gray substance formed. By adding a sprinkle of acid solution to this solid, Victor realized you can form an alcohol. An aldehyde or ketone, with a metal, forms an alcohol? That's exactly right! Formation of this alcohol product showed Victor that it is possible to make different chemical products containing carbon-carbon bonds.
Can you guess what Victor named this simple yet effective reaction? Correct! A Grignard reaction. By definition, a Grignard reaction uses a Grignard reagent with an aldehyde or ketone to form a wide variety of products containing carbon-carbon bonds.
There we have it! This is the history of the Grignard reaction. A true pivotal moment in chemistry, Victor Grignard's dedication to the creation of the Grignard reagent and Grignard reaction didn't go unnoticed. In 1912, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his body of work.
Created by well-known scientist Victor Grignard, the Grignard reaction is used to form carbon-carbon bonds in molecules. Dating back to its discovery during the years of 1899-1901, the Grignard reaction enabled scientists, for the first time, to use a metal and organic compound to form much desirable carbon-carbon bonds. Along with the discovery of the Grignard reaction came the development and preparation of Grignard reagents. These are also known as organometallic compounds. Collectively all of these discoveries resulted in Victor Grignard's award of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1912.
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