Wed March 06, 2013 By: Nevin

What is the difference between Sn1 and Sn2 reactions ?

Expert Reply
Wed March 06, 2013
SN1 and SN2 are both nucleophilic substitution reactions, there are some differences:

1. For SN1 reactions, the step determining the rate is unimolecular, whereas for a SN2 reaction, it is bimolecular.
2. SN1 is a two-step mechanism, whereas SN2 is only a one-step process.
3. During SN1 reactions, the carbocation will form as an intermediate, whereas, during SN2 reactions, it is not formed.
4. In SN2 reactions, one can draw the intermediate structure of where the carbon has a partial bond with the incoming nucleophile and the leaving group, whereas this is not possible in SN1 pathway reactions.

SN1 reaction:

SN2 reaction:

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