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How do qualitaitve analysis work?

  1. Apr 12, 2012 #1
    I usually see a specific functional group is reacted with a transition metal to forma complex producing bright colours - and we distinguish groups based on such reactions and colours

    But the complex will be formed with any nucleophile ( ligand ) right?. Example:- cerric ammonium test is done for alcohols. IT forms a complex with alcohol as the the -OH group acts as a ligand producing red colour.
    But this red colour will be formed with any nucleophile as any other ligand can form the complex.

    Same with other functional groups. I dont see how complex formation distinguishes these functional groups
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 13, 2012 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    Different ligands produce different colors (please read about crystal field theory), correctly selecting the transition metal and conditions it is possible to make the reaction quite specific.

    But I suppose false positives are possible in some cases.
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