Nucleophilic Substitution Reaction: Alkyl halide substrates

Time to complete course: 39 min.

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About Nucleophilic Substitution Reaction: Alkyl halide substrates Virtual Lab Simulation

If reactions were flavors – substitution would be tutti-frutti! In this simulation, you will explore the factors that affect substitution reactions and learn how to promote different mechanisms of substitution. Put your substitution expertise to the test by using retrosynthesis and reaction design principles to create an assortment of aroma molecules in developing exciting new beverage flavors for a craft brewery!

Flavor chemistry saves the day

Help Corey the microbrewery barista attract more customers by designing flavor molecules in the brew lab. Students will get hands-on in learning about substitution – getting immersed in the mechanisms, exploring the factors that affect different types of substitution and how it relates to changes in reaction energy profiles. In order to design their own substitution reactions, students will first develop their theoretical and mechanistic understanding and apply this to practical experimental design.

Exploring substitution mechanisms

Interact with both SN2 and SN1 reactions at a molecular level with our 3D reaction visualizer. Identify the reactive components in substitution reactions, trigger the reaction and replay or rewind at your leisure to spot the mechanistic differences. Be immersed in the mechanistic principles to help lock in molecular-level reactivity concepts and considerations.

Investigate substitution variable factors

Become acquainted with the factors that can affect substitution – and develop your SN2 versus SN1 prediction skills. Investigate why the selection of solvent, leaving groups and substrate size can either promote or prevent substitution. You’ll get to know superstar substrates – the alkyl halides – and their reactivity preferences in substitution reactions. Delving into reaction energy diagrams along the way, you’ll probe and predict the effect of changing these factors to find the energetically most favorable reaction conditions. 

Substitution: Synthesis design!

To successfully complete the mission, you’ll select the necessary chemical ingredients to synthesize five flavor molecules using substitution. Can you mix and match alkyl halides, nucleophiles and solvents to come up with the perfect recipe for each unique flavor?

Get Started Now

Solve a craft beer conundrum using your substitution smarts to design reactions for a unique range of flavor molecules! Will you help draw in a hip crowd with the new beverage flavors you create in the brew lab?

Techniques in Lab

  • Retrosynthesis
  • Reaction energy diagrams

Learning Objectives

At the end of this simulation, you will be able to…

  • Demonstrate a detailed understanding of nucleophilic substitution reactions, both SN1 and SN2 and explain the difference between them
  • Draw the mechanisms of both the SN1 and SN2 nucleophilic substitution reactions
  • Describe the variables in substitution reactions and the effects of changing substrate (steric effects), solvent, nucleophile, and leaving group
  • Consider the stereochemistry of the product to determine the likely reaction mechanism
  • Describe the reactive properties of the alkyl halide group

Simulation Features

Length – 39 minutes
Languages – English

Examples of Related Standards


Chemistry related 1st year onwards


No direct alignment


No direct alignment


No direct alignment

Screenshots of Nucleophilic Substitution Reaction: Alkyl halide substrates Virtual Lab Simulation


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