Chemical trap

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In chemistry, a chemical trap is a chemical compound that is used to detect a certain molecule in cases where:[1]

  • The concentration of this molecule is below the detection limit, either because it is present in a low concentration in a mixture or because it has poor characteristics for direct detection
  • The molecule is very reactive (for example cyclobutadiene) and it is not possible to isolate or detect it by spectroscopic means
  • The molecule is present in a mixture, where other components interfere with its detection (for example an enantiomer present in a racemate)

The trapping agent reacts with the chemical to be detected, giving a product that is more easily detected.


  1. ^ March, Jerry (1985), Advanced Organic Chemistry: Reactions, Mechanisms, and Structure (3rd ed.), New York: Wiley, ISBN 0-471-85472-7