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Ethers: Reactions

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Ethers: Reactions - Lesson Summary

The ether linkage is quite stable towards oxidising agents, reducing agents and bases. The cleavage of the carbon-oxygen bond in ethers takes place only under vigorous conditions by acids.

Ethers can undergo acid-catalysed cleavage to form two molecules of alkyl halides and one molecule of water.

Alkyl aryl ethers also undergo acid-catalysed cleavage. The cleavage occurs at the alkyl-oxygen bond, because the aryl-oxygen bond is more stable due to its partial double bond character. Thus Acid-catalysed cleavage of alkyl aryl ethers forms phenol and an alkyl halide.

The alkoxy group is activating towards electrophilic substitution and is ortho, para directing.

Halogenation occurs by reacting the alkyl aryl ether with bromine in acetic acid.

Alkyl aryl ethers can undergo Friedel-Crafts alkylation and acylation in the presence of anhydrous aluminium chloride.

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