Trifluoroacetic acid is a very strong halogenated derivative of acetic acid. It is used in acid catalyzed reactions, especially those where an ester is cleaved in peptide synthesis. Trifluoroacetic acid is a colorless fuming liquid with a pungent odor. Soluble in water and denser than water. Corrosive to skin, eyes and mucous membranes. Used to make other chemicals and as a solvent.
At a low concentration, trifluoroacetic acid (TFA) is used as an ion pairing agent in liquid chromatography (HPLC) of organic compounds, particularly peptides and small proteins. TFA is a versatile solvent for NMR spectroscopy (for materials stable in acid). It is also used as a calibrant in mass spectrometry. TFA is the precursor to many other fluorinated compounds such as trifluoroacetic anhydride and 2, 2, 2-trifluoroethanol. It is a reagent used in organic synthesis because of a combination of convenient properties: volatility, solubility in organic solvents, and its strength as an acid. TFA is also less oxidizing than sulfuric acid but more readily available in anhydrous form than many other acids. One complication to its use is that TFA forms an azeotrope with water (b. p. 105°C). TFA is the simplest stable perfluorinated carboxylic acid chemical compound, with the formula CF3CO2H. It is a strong carboxylic acid due to the influence of the electronegative trifluoromethyl group. TFA is almost 100, 000-fold more acidic than acetic acid. TFA is widely used in organic chemistry.