Meldrum’s acid

April 13, 2010
Image of Meldrum’s acid 3D Image of Meldrum’s acid

In 1908, A. N. Meldrum condensed malonic acid with acetone to produce a compound he misidentified as a carboxylic acid—hence the name “Meldrum’s acid”. Not until 1948 did D. Davidson and S. A. Bernhard show that the compound has the dioxane-dione structure shown here. Its acidity derives from the lability of the hydrogen atoms between the carbonyl groups. The same authors noted that Meldrum’s acid is a ketene precursor. Recently B. Moon and C. J. Hawker used this property to create polymers with reactive ketene substituents.

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