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Carboxylic acids are organic compounds that contain a carboxyl group and are Brønsted-Lowry acids. Carboxylic acids, being polar in nature, have a tendency of forming a dimeric pair in non-polar media. This polarity results from the presence of a strongly polarized carbonyl (C=O) group and hydroxyl (O-H) group, and the dipoles present in carboxylic acids allow these compounds to participate in energetically favorable hydrogen bonding. Carboxylic acids can exist as aliphatic carboxylic acids, aromatic carboxylic acids, and thiocarboxylic acids. There are wide ranges of carboxylic acid derivatives, which include esters, amides, acid chlorides, anhydrides, and imides. Carboxylic acids can be converted into amines and aldehydes via esters or amides (such as Weinreb amides).
Carboxylic acids and their derivatives play a very vital role in research in several fields including drug discovery, biology, materials, diagnostics, and in manufacturing of polymers, pharmaceuticals, natural products, beverages, chelating agents, preservatives, catalysts, buffers, and solvents. In chemical research, several types of carboxylic acids derivatives have been utilized as key starting materials, intermediates, and as building blocks for several bioactive molecules. Some of the industrially important carboxylic acids includes acetic acid, acrylic acid, acrylic acid, phenylacetic acid, trifluoroacetic acid, methacrylic acid, tartaric acid, mandelic acid, adipic acids, citric acid, EDTA, fatty acids, maleic acid, propionic acid, and terephthalic acid.