Chemical reaction

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A chemical reaction is a process that leads to the transformation of one set of chemical substances to another.[1] Chemical reactions can be either spontaneous, requiring no input of energy, or non-spontaneous, often coming about only after the input of some type of energy, viz. heat, light or electricity. Classically, chemical reactions encompass changes that strictly involve the motion of electrons in the forming and breaking of chemical bonds, although the general concept of a chemical reaction, in particular the notion of a chemical equation, is applicable to transformations of elementary particles, as well as nuclear reactions.

The substance (or substances) initially involved in a chemical reaction are called reactants or reagents. Chemical reactions are usually characterized by a chemical change, and they yield one or more products, which usually have properties different from the reactants. Reactions often consist of a sequence of individual sub-steps, the so-called elementary reactions, and the information on the precise course of action is part of the reaction mechanism. Chemical reactions are described with chemical equations, which graphically present the starting materials, end products, and sometimes intermediate products and reaction conditions.

Different chemical reactions are used in combination in chemical synthesis in order to obtain a desired product. In biochemistry, series of chemical reactions catalyzed by enzymes form metabolic pathways, by which syntheses and decompositions impossible under ordinary conditions are performed within a cell.

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