100 Nano-Stories: Ethers (Part 3)!

Episode #70: Crown Ethers!

Carlos Manuel Jarquín Sánchez
3 min readApr 14, 2021

Preface! ✨

It’s your favorite material science & nanotechnology enthusiast! Today, I want to introduce a branch of organic chemistry that has huge potential in polymer aerogels: Ethers!

Don’t worry, it’s only a 5-minute read! 😁

A brief overview of essential concepts of ethers:

EtherAlkane Substituents (aka “alkyl”) are attached to an oxygen atom.

SubstituentsCarbon Rings or Carbon molecules that are not part of the longest carbon chain (main carbon chain). They are chemically bonded parts of molecules attached to a larger backbone/ring; “yl”.

AlkaneAn organic compound that is only made out of carbon & hydrogen atoms, only single covalent bonds “alk-/-ane”.

But for now, time to go in circles, because we will be talking about crown ethers! 👑

Crown Ethers Explained! 💡

Definitions! 🔑

Crown Ethers are a huge amount of rings composed of carbon and oxygen atoms.

EtherAlkane Substituents (aka “alkyl”) are attached to an oxygen atom. The substituents are commonly methyl groups.

SubstituentsCarbon Rings or Carbon molecules that are not part of the longest carbon chain (main carbon chain). They are chemically bonded parts of molecules attached to a larger backbone/ring; “yl”.

“R”A methyl group, (CH3).

Nomenclature! 🔑

This is what a crown ether looks like:

But how do we name a compound like this one, Carlos? 🤔

Well, it is pretty easy, reader! Let’s use the figure above us as the example for this article! ☝🏽

The first step would be to count all the atoms in the molecule, including the Oxygen atoms, and the bumps in the molecule.

If we were to count the atoms in the example above, we get 12 atoms in this compound above! Here is a visual explanation to help you out if you’re confused:

Sorry for the large image reader! 😅

Now that we know how many atoms there are in the crown ether, the next step is to add “crown” after the number of atoms in the crown ether.

The final step is to write the number of oxygens (O) in the crown ether after the word “crown”.

The name for the crown ether above is (12-crown-4)!

Closing Thoughts! 💭

Now you know a brief introduction to ethers! So complex, but so powerful for creating things like polymer aerogels and reacting with ions like Potassium (K+)!

See you tomorrow for Isotropic Equations and the Properties of the Beer-Lambert Law in calculating transmissivity + haze in transparent aerogels! ✌🏽

Vocabulary! 📓

EtherAlkane Substituents (aka “alkyl”) are attached to an oxygen atom.

SubstituentsCarbon Rings or Carbon molecules that are not part of the longest carbon chain (main carbon chain). They are chemically bonded parts of molecules attached to a larger backbone/ring; “yl”.

AlkaneAn organic compound that is only made out of carbon & hydrogen atoms, only single covalent bonds “alk-/-ane”.

Crown Ethers → A huge amount of rings composed of carbon and oxygen atoms.

“R”A methyl group, (CH3).

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© 2021 by Carlos Manuel Jarquin Sanchez. All Rights Reserved.

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