The Diels–Alder reaction is the reaction between a conjugated diene and an alkene (dienophile) to form unsaturated six-membered rings. Since the reaction involves the formation of a cyclic product via a cyclic transition state, it is also referred to as a "cycloaddition". The Diels–Alder reaction is an electrocyclic reaction, which involves [4+2]‑cycloaddition of 4 π-electrons of the conjugated diene and 2 π-electrons of the dienophile (an alkene or alkyne). The reaction involves the formation of new σ-bonds, which are energetically more stable than the π-bonds. This reaction has great synthetic importance and was discovered by two German chemists, Otto Diels and Kurt Alder in 1928. They were awarded the Nobel Prize in 1950.1
The hetero-Diels–Alder reaction is a variant of this reaction and is useful for the synthesis of six-membered heterocyclic rings. In this reaction, either the diene or the dienophile contains a heteroatom, usually nitrogen or oxygen.1
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The Diels–Alder reaction is useful for the synthesis of: