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Thorpe-Ingold effect

The Thorpe-Ingold effect or gem-dimethyl effect, or angle compression is an effect observed in organic chemistry where increasing the size of two substituents on a tetrahedral center leads to enhanced reactions between parts of the other two substituents. The effect was first reported by Beesley, Thorpe and Ingold in 1916 as part of a study of cyclization reactions.

A common application of this effect is addition of a quaternary carbon (e.g., a gem-dimethyl group) in an alkyl chain to increase the reaction rate and/or equilibrium constant of cyclization reactions. An example is this is an olefin metathesis reaction:[1]

One proposed explanation for this effect is that the increased size of the substituents increases the angle between them. As a result, the angle between the other two substituents decreases. By moving them closer together, reactions between them are accelerated.


  1. ^ Fürstner, A; Langemann, K.. "A Concise Total Synthesis of Dactylol via Ring Closing Metathesis". J. Org. Chem. 61 (25): 8746–8749. doi:10.1021/jo961600c.
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