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Science  05 Oct 1979:
Vol. 206, Issue 4414, pp. 13-20
DOI: 10.1126/science.206.4414.13


Superacids, although first referred to as early as 1927, were only extensively studied in the last decade. Acidities up to 1012 times that of sulfuric acid have now been obtained. The extremely low nucleophilicity of the counterions in superacidic systems is especially useful for the preparation of stable, electron-deficient cations, particularly carbocations. Many of these cations, which were formerly detectable only in the gas phase, can now be studied in solution. Novel organic syntheses that are not possible in ordinary acidic media can also be achieved in superacids, including syntheses of economically important hydrocarbons. The unique ability of superacids to bring about hydrocarbon transformations, even to activate methane to undergo electrophilic oligocondensation, can open up new fields in chemistry.