I am preparing for chemistry olympiad and I am stuck nitrito-O and nitrito-N. Can anyone explain difference between the structure of nitrito-O and nitrito-N or point a resource which is suitable for a beginner?


1 Answer 1


The last letter of nitrite-O and nitrite-N depicts the atom which is attached to the other atom. This phenomenon is called linkage isomerism and is an important concept in both organic and inorganic chemistry.

Inorganic chemistry


This complex exhibits linkage isomerism which results in two possible ways of attachment of ligand to the central atom. First one, the $\ce{NO2}$ ligates with (attaches to) the central atom through the nitrogen atom and thus is called pentaamminenitrito-N-cobalt(III) chloride and the second one, $\ce{NO2}$ ligates with the central atom through the oxygen atom and thus is called pentaamminenitrito-O-cobalt(III) chloride. In this case, $\ce{NO2}$ is called ambident ligand and is represented as nitrito-κ-N and nitrito-κ-O, replacing the old system of trivial names such as nitro and nitroso.

Organic chemistry

Alkyl nitrite forms two isomers: $\ce{RNO2}$ (called alkyl nitrite-N) and $\ce{R-O-N=O}$ (called alkyl nitrite-O).For preparation of these two isomers, see Reaction of an alkyl halide with silver nitrite.


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