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Unlock the Power of PCC Reagent for Selective Functional Group Modification

PCC Reagent – A Powerful Oxidizing Agent for Organic ChemistryAs a student of chemistry, you may have heard of the PCC reagent. This compound has become very popular in organic synthesis due to its remarkable oxidizing properties.

If you are interested in learning more about this compound, then youve come to the right place. In this article, we will explore the uses, chemical formula, and selectivity of the PCC reagent, as well as how it was discovered and manufactured.

Definition and Use

PCC, which stands for pyridinium chlorochromate, is an oxidizing agent used in organic chemistry for the oxidation of primary alcohols to aldehydes, secondary alcohols to ketones and the selective oxidation of functional groups. Essentially, the PCC reagent helps to change the functional group of the organic molecules being synthesized.

Researchers use PCC reagent as a substitute for other oxidizing agents because it is more selective and less reactive. PCC selectively oxidizes the hydroxy (-OH) group in alcohols to carbonyl (-C=O) groups in aldehydes and ketones without damaging other functional groups that may be present in the molecule.

Additionally, PCC is less reactive, giving researchers more control over the reaction process, which is crucial in organic chemistry.

Chemical Formula and Selectivity

The PCC reagent has a complex chemical formula of [C 5 H 5 NH] + [CrO 3 Cl]. The compound has a yellow-orange appearance and is solid at room temperature.

Though seemingly simple, the reagent is very selective in its oxidizing properties, making it a popular choice in organic synthesis. When used for the oxidation of primary alcohols, PCC selectively oxidizes the OH group to form aldehydes that have a double bond (C=O) while leaving other functional groups unaffected.

In the oxidation of secondary alcohols, PCC is also selective and oxidizes the OH group to form ketones with a double bond. The selectivity of the PCC reagent makes it a commonly used starting material in organic synthesis laboratories.

History and Preparation

EJ Corey and W Suggs discovered the PCC reagent in 1975 while attempting to develop a more effective oxidizing agent. The PCC reagent soon proved to be effective and safe to use in organic chemistry, and it is now a commonly used oxidizing agent in laboratories worldwide.

The manufacturing of PCC reagent is relatively straightforward. To produce it, one must mix solid chromium trioxide with hydrochloric acid.

This mixture creates a light green solution that will then be mixed with pyridine. The pyridine acts as a proton source to create the final product, the yellow-orange solid reagent.

The product is then filtered and washed to remove excess reagents and impurities.


The PCC reagent is a vital tool for organic chemists. Its use in selective oxidizing reactions has made it an essential starting material for creating aldehydes and ketones and modifying functional groups.

With a robust understanding of the PCC reagent’s chemical properties and selectivity, researchers can be sure that it will become an integral part of their organic synthesis toolbox.

Reaction and Examples

Now that we understand the definition, use, chemical formula, selectivity, history, and preparation of the PCC reagent, it’s time to delve into how it works and some examples of its application.

Oxidation Range and Result

The PCC reagent works effectively with aliphatic alcohols, including primary and secondary alcohols, as well as aromatic alcohols. For primary alcohols, the PCC reagent selectively oxidizes the alcohol to an aldehyde, while for secondary alcohols, it selectively oxidizes to a ketone.

When aromatic alcohols react with PCC reagent, it does not lead to the formation of the corresponding carbonyl group. The resulting oxidation of the alcohol to an aldehyde is shown by the equation below:


While the oxidation of an alcohol to a ketone occurs as:

– R2CHOH –> R2C=O

As shown, the process forms a carbonyl group (–C=O) in the molecule, while simultaneously reducing chromium from 6 to 4.

The selectivity of the PCC reagent for aldehydes and ketones over carboxylic acids, esters, ethers, and alkenes makes it a vital tool for organic chemistry synthesis.

Mechanism and Procedure

The reaction mechanism of PCC reagent is complex and happens in two stages. The first stage involves the alcohol coordinating to the chromium (IV) atom.

The coordinated alcohol is displaced by chlorine, and the resulting intermediate is then further reduced by a base. The reduction stage is where the chromium (VI) is reduced to chromium (IV), while the alcohol is oxidized to a carbonyl compound.

An important aspect of the procedure for using PCC reagent is to ensure that the reaction is carried out under dry and neutral pH environments because the reagent is highly water-sensitive, with a tendency to hydrolyze if exposed to excess water.


As with any chemical compound, researchers and students are bound to have questions about PCC reagent. In this subtopic, we will look at some of the frequently asked questions about PCC and provide answers to them.

Common Questions

What is PCC reagent, and what is it used for? How does PCC reagent work in the oxidation of alcohols?

Answer and Explanation

PCC is a pyridinium chlorochromate oxidizing agent popularly used in selective oxidizing reactions. The PCC reagent is used to selectively oxidize a range of aliphatic and aromatic alcohols to carbonyl compounds with minimal functional group disruptions in the rest of the molecule.

The PCC reagent works by coordinating the alcohol with the chromium (IV) atom, which is then displaced by chlorine, resulting in an intermediate that undergoes further reduction by a base. The final product is the carbonyl compound, as well as the reduced chromium (IV) atom.

In conclusion, the PCC reagent is a powerful oxidizing agent with selective properties of functional group modification. Its ability to selectively oxidize alcohols to carbonyl compounds without compromising other functional groups in the molecule makes it an essential tool in organic synthesis.

Understanding the reaction mechanism of the PCC reagent and its selective properties can help researchers unlock endless possibilities in organic chemistry. The PCC reagent is a vital tool in organic chemistry for selectively modifying functional groups without compromising other parts of the molecule.

It selectively oxidizes primary and secondary alcohols to carbonyl compounds, leaving other functional groups within the molecule undisturbed. The reagent coordinates with alcohol before undergoing reduction and yielding a carbonyl compound and reduced chromium (IV).

Researchers using PCC should ensure a dry, neutral pH environment to prevent its tendency to hydrolyze. In summary, with its selective properties, safe reaction, and significant chemical properties, PCC reagent can help researchers unlock countless possibilities in organic chemistry.


– What is PCC reagent, and what is its main use? – How does PCC reagent work for the oxidation of alcohols?

– Can PCC reagent damage any functional groups within the molecule? – How can researchers ensure its safe reaction during use?

– What is the mechanism of PCC reagent’s reaction?

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