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What is Organic Chemistry?

In Chemistry, organic chemistry is considered as a sub discipline involving the study of properties, structure, reactions, preparation (by synthesis and the structure compounds containing carbon atoms, hydrocarbons and their derivatives. Due to this, the compounds involved may contain any number of other chemical elements which include nitrogen, hydrogen, oxygen, phosphorus, sulfur, silicon and the halogens.

As a sub discipline, the study of organic compounds are diverse in structure and the application range of these compounds is considered enormous forming the basis oo the most important constituents of the many products that are made out of these compounds. These products include: petrochemicals, food, explosives et cetera and with the very least exceptions, they are considered to form the basis of all life processes that are in existence in on earth.

Characterization of Organic Compounds

Organic compounds have their existence occurring as mixtures. This has triggered the inventory of techniques to assess the purity of the compounds. This especially refers to techniques such as HPLC and gas chromatography used in Chromatography with the traditional separation methods such as distillation, solvent extraction and crystallization also in use.

Traditionally, organic compounds were characterized by chemical tests of different variations which were referred to as "wet methods". However, these tests were later replaced by more complex ones which are spectroscopic and involve the use of computer-intensive procedures which involve analysis. The analytical methods used are:

Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) Spectroscopy - Considered as the most common technique in use, it is known to permit the complete assignment of connectivity of atoms as well as stereochemistry  by  means of correlation spectroscopy thus the principal constituents atoms involved with organic chemistry - carbon and hydrogen - are in natural existence with NMR responsive isotopes occurring respectively 1H and 13C.


Elemental Analysis - This method considered as destructive is used for the determination of composition of elements of a molecule.

Mass Spectrometry - This technique incorporates the indication a compounds molecular weight and its fragmentation patterns from its structure. For clear detection of exact formula compounds, a high resolution mass spectrometry is used in lieu of analysis of elements. Earlier, restrictions on mass spectrometry in relevance to neutral molecules showing signs of volatility were put in place. This was abolished as ionization techniques have paved way for the "mass spec" of most of the compounds that are of organic nature.

Crystallography - This is considered as an unambiguous procedure in which the molecular geometry of a crystal is determined. This requires that the availability of single crystals of the material is present hence the crystal act as a representative of the crystal sample. Through the advent of highly automated softwares, a structure of a crystal is able to be determined within hours of obtaining the suitable crystal. This has been acquired by scientists all over the world with traditional methods of spectroscopy being in use to-date in the identification of some specific classes of compounds.

These methods have been adopted by scientists with an aim of synthesizing of organic compounds which play a big role in the livelihoods of human beings and other creatures in the world. (Knapp, 1998 p. 21-42).

Properties of Organic Compounds

Physical properties involved with organic compounds focus on quantitative and qualitative analysis of these compounds of interests. The Quantitative analysis involves factors such as the melting point, boiling point and the refractive index of a compound thus the qualitative analysis involves factors such as consistency, color, odor and the solubility of the substance.

Melting and Boiling Points

Organic compounds are characterized by their ability to reach melting and boiling points. Earlier in the years, these properties allowed for the determination of purity and identity as well as vital information on organic compounds. The melting point and boiling point of organic substances correlate with the polarity of molecules and their molecular weight. With this in place, organic compounds, in reference to symmetrical compounds sublime, this is with reason that their evaporation occurs without the presence of the melting process. An example of a compound that undergoes sublimation is paradichlorobenzene which is the odiferous constituents contained in mothballs. These compound that are organic in nature lack stability at temperatures above 300 oC. This is with the exception of some compounds.

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Organic compounds that are of neutral nature tend to have hydrophobic characteristics. This means that they are less soluble in water than in organic solvents. This is with the exception of organic compounds that have ionizable groups as well as those with low molecular weight alcohols, amines and carboxylic acids. Where there is the occurrence of hydrogen bonding. Organic compounds have the tendency to dissolve in organic solvents. These solvents can either be pure substances like ether or ethyl alcohol and/or mixtures. These mixtures are paraffin solvents such as the various petroleum ethers and white spirits. The solubility of solvents involved with organic substance is dependant on the solvent type and on the functional groups.

Solid State Properties

The various properties of these compounds depend on the applications. i.e. thermo-mechanical and electro-mechanical applications such as piezoelectricity, electro-optical and electrical conductivity.

Structural Drawings

Organic molecules are usually described using structural formulas. And chemical symbols. This uses the line-angle formula which is simple and has its meanings clearly defined. Here, the endpoints and intersections contained in each of the line in the structure represent a single carbon and hydrogen atom thus organic compounds contain drawings that depict their nature and are greatly simplified. This is with the relation that organic compounds assume four bonds with two oxygen atoms, one hydrogen and three nitrogen atoms.

Classification of Organic Compounds

Functional Groups

The carboxyl acids family contains a carboxyl functional group (-COOH). An example is the acetic acid which is a carboxyl acid. The functional group in organic chemistry is the key concept involved in the classification of compounds. A functional group is considered to be the molecular module hence the reactivity of the functional group involved is based on assumption which is mainly within limits and considered to have the same characteristics in a certain variety of molecules.

These functional groups in certain ways exhibit influence that is considered decisive on the chemical and physical properties contained in organic compounds. While this is so, the molecules in these organic compounds are classified based on the functional groups of these compounds. Examples of organic compounds include Alcohols which derive the subunit C-O-H. Alcohols are hydrophilic in nature, and are easily converted to halides thus the formation of esters. These compounds classification fall under the function al groups of alcohols, amines, carboxylic acids et cetera.

Aliphatic Compounds

Compounds of this nature have three subdivisions consisting of a homologous series. This is so according to their saturation states. They include:

Alkanes which do not possess characteristics of double and triple bonds.

Alkenes which contain one or double bonds and are represented by addition of the prefix di.

Alkynes containing one or triple bonds.

The remaining compound classification is done according to the functional groups present. These compounds may possess either a straight chain or branched/cyclic chain. Due to this, their characteristic i.e. their octane number or number of cetane as used in petroleum chemistry, is affects the degree of branching.

Saturated and unsaturated compounds exist as derivatives of cyclic nature hence the stability of these compounds depend on the number of stable rings contained in the compound. This mostly varies from five to six carbon atoms. The smallest compound in the aliphatic compounds is the cyclopropane with the formula ((CH2)3). Compounds that are saturated have single bonds while those that are aromatic have double bonds which are alternating. Compounds of the Cycoalkanes group lack multiple bonds while those that are of the cycoalkenes and cycoalkyne groups contain double or multiple bonds.

Aromatic Compounds

Hydrocarbons of this nature contain double bonds that are conjugated. An example of such a compound is benzene, the conferment of cyclic compounds and their aromaticity is characterized by the presence of 4n + 2 thus having the pi delocalized electrons. The n stand for the integer whereas the instability is denoted by the presence of 4n pi electrons that are conjugated.

Heterocyclic Compounds

The alterations of cyclic hydrocarbons affect their characteristics. This is because the existence of heteroatoms is present. These heteroatoms may exist as substituents that have been externally attached to the exocyclic ring or as a member of the endocyclic ring. In this case, this ring is referred to as heteroccycle. Examples of this include pyridine and furan which are aromatic heterocycles while the other compounds are pipridine and tetrahydrofuran which correspond to alicyclic heterocycles. (Zumdahl, 2000. p55-67).

This is a carbon property which is involved with the readily formation of chains through the bonding of carbon atoms. This process is referred to as polymerization. This can only result from the source compound which is referred to as a monomer. Polymers exist in two main groups i.e. artificial polymers which are industrially manufactured and synthetic polymers which occur naturally as bipolymers.

Organic synthetic polymers include polyethylene (Polythene) polyesters et cetera with synthetic and natural rubber being polymers. The polymers containing generic names may exist in many varieties thus the tuning of physical characteristics may be referred in for their usage. The alteration of the conditions during polymerization affects the chemical composition of a product through the alterations of the length of the chain. The physical characteristics such as heat resistance, color, abrasion, hardness, transparency, mechanical and the tensile strength will be dependant on the composition of the final product.

Organic Synthesis

Organic synthesis consists of a design where target molecules are cut into pieces according to their established reactions. This is done through the selection of optimal reactions as opposed to starting materials. This latter is followed through the utilization of the reactivity of the functional groups involved (Robert , 1992. Pp. 73-89).

Importance of Organic Compounds

Organic compounds are used in the making of construction materials, polythene bags fragrances Et cetera. These compounds have different characteristics thus differ in formation and composition. Certain foods also contain organic elements thus are synthesized to achieve this.

The study of organic chemistry has enabled the creation of materials that have been synthesized. The synthesis which proved to be somehow tiring in earlier times has been simplified as through a known set of properties, synthesis can quickly take place thus the final product is generated. Due to this factor, organic chemistry has brought change to how products and other organic compounds are prepared.

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