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A class of organic compounds that has an oxygen atom interposed between the two alkyl or aryl or between an alkyl and aryl fragments are known as ethers (R-O-R'). The oxygen atom in ethers are more electronegative than carbon, thus the hydrogens which are alpha to the ethers are more acidic than the simple hydrocarbons. Ethers are classified into two types, simple or symmetrical and mixed or asymmetrical ethers based on the organic fragments (R and R') attached to the oxygen atom. The simple or symmetrical ethers are those which have identical organic fragments attached to an oxygen atom (diethyl ether, dimethyl ether). The mixed or asymmetrical ethers are ones which have the different organic fragments attached to an oxygen atom (methyl ethyl ether, cyclopentyl methyl ether)
Ethers are liquids that burn easily. Most common ethers are employed in chemical processing, extraction and separation of chemicals. In biochemistry, as they are common linkages in carbohydrates and lignin. Owing to the inertness of ethers & their wide range of physical properties, they are used as solvents for fats, oils, waxes, perfumes, resins, dyes, gums, and hydrocarbons.