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Carboxylic esters are organic compounds that have -C(=O)OR functional groups (R is alkyl or aryl). They are carboxylic acid groups in which the hydroxyl is replaced by an alkoxy or aryloxy groups. Esters are polar compounds and participate in hydrogen bonding as hydrogen-bond acceptors conferring partial water-solubility behavior. Ethyl acetate is a commonly used in laboratory and industrial solvents for reactions, work up and purification. In organic synthesis, esters are commonly used to prepare acids, amides, and alcohols. They are starting materials for the Claisen condensation, Dieckmann condensation, trans-esterification and Fries rearrangement. They are also employed as protecting groups for carboxylic acids during organic synthesis. Fatty acid esters of glycerol occur naturally as fats and oils. Saponification of esters is a route to synthesis of soap. Esters are generally endowed with a distinctive fruit-like odor which led to their wide-spread use & research as artificial flavoring and fragrance agents.
Lactones are cyclic organic compounds in which -C(=O)O- forms part of the ring. Lactones are largely cyclic esters of hydroxycarboxylic acids. Lactones with smaller ring systems are generally very reactive, while 5-membered and 6-membered rings are usually stable. In nature, they are widely distributed as ascorbic acid, gluconolactone, harmones, enzymes, phytoestrogens, and antibiotics. Lactones are precursor for polyester polymers which are prepared by ring-opening polymerization of lactones. They have wide-spread applicability as bio-resorbable devices in surgery and in pharmacology for controlled drug delivery.