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Alkanes and Haloalkanes

4. Conformational Analysis

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In the fourth mini-lecture, we look at a more advanced topic surrounding alkanes: conformational analysis. Understanding conformational analysis requires new notation and a new appreciation of compounds in 3-D space, so we begin this topic here. Moving on, we know that chemical bonds are not static, but in fact some can rotate about themselves. We learn that this rotation forms conformational isomers, with varying degrees of stability. These differences in energy levels result from the sterics of functional groups interacting with each other, so as more and more functional groups are added to an alkane, we are shown how a conformational energy profile diagram changes to accommodate them.


In this course, Professor Karl Haushalter (Harvey Mudd College) introduces alkanes to us, a fundamental type of hydrocarbon often used in research and industry. We begin by: (i) introducing the key characteristics of alkanes, and the process of drawing and writing out short-chain alkanes and some derivatives as well; then (ii) talking about structural isomerism, and how different structural formulae can arise from compounds with the same chemical formula; before (iii) showing and discussing the bonding within alkanes, and how this bonding defines key aspects such as shape and bond angle; then (iv) looking at some more advanced topics such as conformational analysis, and why certain conformations of alkanes are higher or lower in energy; and then (v) introducing alkanes substituted with halogens, otherwise known as haloalkanes, looking briefly at their nomenclature, structure, and thermodynamics; before finally (vi) looking at some key reactions of haloalkanes, such as nucleophilic substitution and elimination, as well as their mechanisms.


Professor Karl Haushalter is Professor of Chemistry and Biology and Department Chair of Chemistry at Harvey Mudd College. He studies the details of DNA repair, providing an entry point into understanding the molecular mechanisms of carcinogenesis, aging, and evolution. In addition to these scientific pursuits, Prof. Haushalter is active in community efforts to combat the stigma associated with HIV-AIDS and support those living with HIV-AIDS through education and empowerment.

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APA style

Haushalter, K. (2022, January 17). Alkanes and Haloalkanes - Conformational Analysis [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Haushalter, K. "Alkanes and Haloalkanes – Conformational Analysis." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 17 Jan 2022,

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