Organic Chemistry/Introduction to reactions/Energy diagrams

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Energy diagrams are used to show the favorability of a reaction. They show how energy gained or lost in the different stages of a reaction and show which stages are the slow and fast steps (slow steps have high potential energy). We can also compare the energies of one reaction to another in order to see which reaction will be favored.

Sample energy diagram.png

Transition states are high peaks in an energy diagram.

If the end of the diagram is lower than the beginning, the product of the reaction is more stable and/or lower in energy than the starting materials, and the overall reaction is energetically favorable. If the tail end of the energy diagram is higher than the front, then the product is less stable or energetically favorable than the starting materials, and the overall reaction is energetically unfavorable. Any high peaks in the diagram indicate difficult points to pass and will slow down the reaction.