Organic and Inorganic Chemistry Lesson of the Day – Conformational Isomers (or Conformers)
November 20, 2014 Leave a comment
Conformational isomerism is a special type of stereoisomerism that arises from the rotation of a single bond. Specifically, 2 molecules are conformational isomers (or conformers) if they can be interconverted exclusively by the rotation of a single bond. This type of isomerism differs from configurational stereoisomerism, whose isomers can only be interconverted by breaking certain bonds and reattaching* them to produce different 3-dimensional orientations. Examples of configurational isomers include enantiomers, diastereomers, cis/trans isomers and meso isomers.
Different conformers are notable for having different stabilities, depending on the electrostatic interactions between the substituents along the single bond of interest. I will talk about these differences in greater depth in future Chemistry Lessons of the Day.
*Such reattachment of the bonds must not result in different connectivities (or sequence of bonds); otherwise, that would result in structural isomers.