Acyclic Alkanes
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Learn to draw and name 3D acyclic alkanes on paper!
(Available through the Livescribe app store.)

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This application can recognize 150 2D and 239 3D acyclic alkane structures with up to 10 carbons or 9 lines!

The highlighted text is the pen's display.

Once you have entered Acyclic Alkanes, you can select one of three options from the vertical navigation menu:

Option What you can do?
Tutorial Mode: See the name of your drawing.
Quiz Mode: Draw a given acyclic alkane.
Instructions Website: Remember where to find instructions.


Tutorial Mode:  Once you see Draw displayed, draw a straight line that is longer than the separation of two lines on college rule paper:.  The display shows ethane.  Lift up the pen and draw another line connected to the first line:.  The display shows propane.  Draw a third line branching from the center of the first two lines:.  The display shows 2-methylpropane.  You can start a new drawing by reentering the Tutorial Mode:, by double tapping on the paper twice or by navigating right.

Quiz Mode:  You will see a display like Draw (R)-2,3-dimethylpentane.  As you add each line you will see the name of the structure that you have drawn followed by a comma, and a prompt to draw the same thing, e.g., 2,3-dimethylpentane, Draw (R)-2,3-dimethylpentane for  .  Complete a wedge by drawing (in one stroke) a figure that looks like a 7 or an L between two points that already have a line between them, e.g., Correct!:.  The wedge means that the atom at the end of the stroke is in front of the atom at the beginning of the stroke.  Double tap on the paper twice to try drawing the same question.


CcHh The molecular formula is displayed because the program does not know the name of your drawing.
No bond? Your line was not straight, you drew a wedge between two points that did not have a line between them or you drew an atomic symbol before its bond.
Please wait... If the recognition of your drawing is taking too long, exit the program.
Tap Twice to Erase! You double tapped once.  You have to double tap again or continue drawing.
Unknown Element? You entered an atomic symbol besides C or H or you drew a bond that was too short.

*Different auditory clues are provided for each operation.



  • Acyclic alkanes contain only carbon and hydrogen but do not have any rings or multiple bonds between the same two atoms.

  • They are the first things you learn to name in organic chemistry.

  • This application can recognize all 239 three-dimensional acyclic alkanes with up to 10 carbons.

  • The shorthand for drawing them is lines and wedges.

  • Lines represent the bonds between atoms.

  • Wedges represent atoms sticking out of the plane of the sheet of paper.

  • In shorthand drawings, where two lines meet or the end of a line (in mathematics this point is called a vertex of a graph) represents a carbon with an appropriate number of hydrogens.

  • The maximum number of lines that should be drawn to a point representing a carbon is four and the number of implicit hydrogens is four minus the number of lines meeting at the point.  For instance, if you draw one line you are representing two carbons (the two ends of the line) plus six hydrogens (3 hydrogens per end of the line).

  • If you use the atomic symbol C in your drawing then you must also draw your own hydrogens using the atomic symbol H.

  • By just using lines you can learn the name of all acyclic alkanes with up to 10 carbons.

  • By using atomic symbols you can check that you known how many carbons and hydrogens are represented in a shorthand drawing.  You must draw methane this way.

  • By using wedges you can enter the secret 3D world of stereochemistry.

General Rules for Naming Acyclic Alkanes Systematically:

  1. Name the longest chain with the most branches a follows:

    1. propane, 3

    2. butane, 4

    3. pentane, 5

    4. hexane, 6

    5. heptane, 7

    6. octane, 8

    7. nonane, 9

    8. decane, 10

  2. Name simple branches by length as follows:

    1. methyl, 1

    2. ethyl, 2

    3. propyl, 3

  3. More complicated branches are named as branches of branches such as:

    1. 1-methylethyl

    2. 1-methylpropyl

    3. 2-methylpropyl

  4. List the branches as prefixes in alphabetical order, e.g., ethylmethylpentane, with no spaces between the parts.

  5. Number the branches as prefixes to give the smallest numbering, e.g., 2-methylpentane not 4-methylpentane, separating numbers from letters with hyphens.

  6. Condense multiple listings of the same branch name with the prefixes di, tri, tetra, penta, etc., e.g., 2,3-dimethylbutane, separating number from each other with commas.

  7. There are more rules.

  8. Buy this program and draw the figures below to learn to name acyclic alkanes systematically.

General Rules for Naming Stereo Acyclic Alkanes:



Click below to see all the acyclic alkanes this program can name!




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