Why is arrow pushing utilized when organic reactivity is described?

1 Answer
Feb 3, 2018


This question is rather open-ended....


When you see an organic prof at the board in a lecture, he or she will busily write equations representing the movement of electrons as double-headed arrows (electron pairs) or single headed arrows (lone electrons). Sometimes you get the idea that the organic prof can write 30 of these in a minute, a post-doc can do 10, and an undergrad can do maybe 5.

The use of these arrows is very much a formalism, a conceptual idea that has little basis in fact, but may nevertheless be useful in rationalizing and explaining reactivity. We use the movement of double-headed or single-headed to represent reactivity...the which for organic chemists is largely a matter of the reaction of nucleophiles, electron donors, with electrophiles, electron acceptors....

Often quite complex mechanisms can be mapped out using electron pushing and pulling....