Stack Exchange Network

Stack Exchange network consists of 175 Q&A communities including Stack Overflow, the largest, most trusted online community for developers to learn, share their knowledge, and build their careers.

Visit Stack Exchange

The detailed (and as complete as possible) description of plausible or observable pathways leading from reactants to products of a chemical process. This tag should be applied to questions about these processes. It may be applied to hypothetical and/or proposed mechanisms.

Definition (IUPAC goldbook: mechanism of a reaction)

mechanism of a reaction
Synonym: reaction mechanism
A detailed description of the process leading from the reactants to the products of a reaction, including a characterization as complete as possible of the composition, structure, energy and other properties of reaction intermediates, products, and transition states. An acceptable mechanism of a specified reaction (and there may be a number of such alternative mechanisms not excluded by the evidence) must be consistent with the reaction stoichiometry, the rate law and with all other available experimental data, such as the stereochemical course of the reaction. Inferences concerning the electronic motions which dynamically interconvert successive species along the reaction path (as represented by curved arrows, for example) are often included in the description of a mechanism. It should be noted that for many reactions all this information is not available and the suggested mechanism is based on incomplete experimental data. It is not appropriate to use the term mechanism to describe a statement of the probable sequence in a set of stepwise reactions. That should be referred to as a reaction sequence, and not a mechanism.

Related definitions:

Further reading

Aplicability of the tag

This tag should be applied to questions, which seek information on elementary steps of chemical reactions. It may be applied to hypothetical and/or proposed mechanisms.

Related tags

history | excerpt history