Explain why aldol reactions involving aromatic aldehydes and ketones are favoured.

Aromatic aldehydes and ketones are compounds that contain a benzene ring along with a carbonyl group. In aldol reactions, these compounds can undergo a unique reaction called an aldol condensation.

To understand why aldol reactions involving aromatic aldehydes and ketones are favored, we need to look at the factors that influence the reaction and stability of the resulting product.

The first factor is the electronic nature of the carbonyl group in aromatic aldehydes and ketones. Both aldehydes and ketones have a partially positive carbon atom (electrophilic) and an oxygen atom with a partial negative charge (nucleophilic). Aromatic aldehydes and ketones, due to the resonance stabilization provided by the benzene ring, possess greater electron density on the carbonyl carbon compared to their aliphatic counterparts. This increased electron density enhances the electrophilicity of the carbonyl group, making it more reactive towards nucleophilic attack in aldol reactions.

The second factor is the stability of the resulting aldol product. In an aldol condensation, the carbonyl group of one molecule reacts with the α-carbon (adjacent carbon) of another molecule in the presence of a base, resulting in the formation of a β-hydroxy carbonyl compound. This compound contains a hydroxyl (-OH) group attached to a carbon atom adjacent to the carbonyl group.

In the case of aromatic aldehydes and ketones, the resulting product from the aldol condensation reaction is known as an α,β-unsaturated carbonyl compound. This compound possesses a conjugated system of double bonds, which provides stability through resonance. The conjugation of double bonds in α,β-unsaturated carbonyl compounds allows for the delocalization of electrons, leading to increased stability and lower reactivity towards further reactions.

Additionally, the presence of a conjugated system also introduces aromaticity into the molecule, which further enhances its stability.

Therefore, due to both the increased reactivity of the carbonyl group and the stability of the resulting α,β-unsaturated carbonyl products, aldol reactions involving aromatic aldehydes and ketones are favored.

To perform such a reaction, one would typically mix the aromatic aldehyde or ketone with a suitable base, such as NaOH or KOH, and then heat the reaction mixture. The resulting α,β-unsaturated carbonyl compound can then be isolated through purification techniques such as extraction or column chromatography.