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Isomerism in Alkanes

Isomerism is the phenomenon of the existence of more than one compound having different structural formulae but the same molecular formula.

The compounds that have different structural formulae but the same molecular formula are called isomers (in Greek: iso-equal and meros-part).

Isomerism in alkanes arises owing to the possibility that the carbon atoms in an alkane may be linked in different ways to give rise to more than one structural formula.

However, isomerism is not possible in methane (CH4), ethane (CH3CH3) and propane (CH3CH2CH3) because only one arrangement of carbon atoms is possible.

Two isomers are possible in the case of butane. Both the isomers have the same molecular formula, C4H10.

The four carbon atoms in butane are linked in two different ways to form two isomers, namely

Similarly, pentane (C5H12) has three isomers, namely normal pentane, isopentane and neopentane. Each of the isomers has a different skeleton system of carbons.

Hexane (C6H14) has five isomers. Each isomer has a different skeleton system of carbons, namely

The different skeletons of carbon give rise to different isomers of hexane, namely

Isomerism in alkanes is due to different arrangements of the carbon chain in the molecule and is called chain isomerism.

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