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In chemistry, an alcohol is any organic compound in which the hydroxyl functional group (–OH) is bound to a carbon.
- An alcohol molecule is a nucleophile by virtue of the dense electron cloud on its O atom, which results in a partial negative charge there. As soon as it gets within striking distance of the target molecule the electron cloud bulges out towards the positively charged C atom and forms a carbon–oxygen bond. At about the same time, the alcohol molecule shrugs off the H atom (as a proton) that it brought with it; that proton is picked up by a nearby water molecule, which becomes an H3O+ ion. A proton has been restored to the medium: one was used to prepare the target and now one has been returned. That marriage-broker-like action of the proton, its role in bringing about reaction but its release for involvement elsewhere after its work has been done, is the central nature of catalytic action.
- Peter Atkins, Reactions: The Private Life of Atoms (2011), p. 122