Organic Chemistry

Chemists believed that compounds obtained from living organisms were enriched with a vital force that distinguished them from inorganic compounds. 'Organic' refers to the compounds that were synthesized from living organisms in the past. The development of organic chemistry benefited from the discovery of petroleum and the development of the petrochemical industry. Organic compounds form the basis of all earthly life and constitute a significant part of human endeavors in chemistry. Organic chemistry is now considered the chemistry of carbon

Introduction to Organic Chemistry

  1. Organic Chemistry is a sub division of Chemistry and it deals with the scientific study of structure, properties and the compositions of compounds. This is also considered as the chemistry of carbon containing compounds.
  2. Every living organisms, irrespective of plants and animals are composed of organic compounds and anyone with an interest in life would definitely like to know more about the molecules involved in these life processes, which would require a basic understanding of organic chemistry.


What is Organic Chemistry?

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Organic chemistry is the branch of chemistry dealing with compounds containing carbon-carbon bonds. These carbon compounds are special in nature because most of them are covenant in nature and they are highly volatile. As organic compounds have some distinguishing characters they are differentiated from rest of the chemistry and is studied separately. As carbon can form a long chain due to its catenation ability (an ability to form long chains with self and with other atoms) it can form many number of compounds. Allowing us study the properties of organic compounds separately.
Chemicals studied in organic chemistry include hydrocarbons, compounds containing only carbon and hydrogen, as well as myriad compositions based always on carbon, but also containing other elements like hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus, sulfur etc. The bonding patterns open to carbon, with its poise of four—formal single, double, and triple bonds, as well as various structures with electrons—make the array of organic compounds structurally diverse and their range of applications enormous.

Organic Chemistry Definition

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Organic chemistry is the branch of chemistry dealing with organic compounds made up of covalent carbon chain. This branch is unique in studying the properties of organic compounds as all of them are covalent and they undergo different set of reactions from Inorganic compounds.  

Organic Chemistry Functional Groups

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One of the special features of Organic Chemistry which differentiates it from Inorganic chemistry is that the compounds form a pattern called Homologous series. Every organic compound will have a specific part or group where the reactivity is more. This part is called as functional group in the organic compound.
All the organic compounds with same functional group will fall under the same homologous series. They will have same chemical properties which make the study of organic chemistry much more easier.
For example in the following compounds the hydroxy (-OH) is the functional group and all the compounds are called as alcohols with same physical and chemical properties.


The special nature of functional group is all the compounds with same functional group will have same chemical properties. But the physical properties may differ with the number and nature of carbon chain.

For example both methanol and butanol will fall under alcohol series. Both will react with sodium to liberate hydrogen gas.

2CH3OH + 2Na $\rightarrow$ 2CH3ONa + H2
2CH3CH2CH2OH + 2Na
$\rightarrow$ 2CH3CH2CH2ONa + H2
Organic chemistry reactions are different from inorganic chemistry reactions. Organic reactions are chemical reactions involving organic compounds. The number of possible organic reactions is basically infinite. However, certain general patterns are observed that can be used to describe many common or useful reactions. Organic reactions can be categorized based on the type of functional group involved in the reaction as a reactant and the functional group that is formed as a result of this reaction.

Almost every component of living organisms involves organic chemistry – carbohydrates, enzymes, fats, lipids, proteins, nucleic acids etc. The balance of attractive forces between atoms when they share electrons is known as covalent bonding. A covalent bond is a chemical bond that involves the sharing of electron pairs between atoms. Depending upon the order of the bond millions of compound connections, all with potentially different properties, can be prepared. 

Ionization reaction

On the other hand the bonding electrons may be equally divided between atom giving rise to free radicals. Hence organic chemistry reactions proceed by the formation of ions or free radicals.

Homolytic Fission

1. Hence the organic chemistry reaction may be classified as

  • Free radical reaction where radicals are formed and initiate the reaction, For example bromination of methane involves formation of bromine free radical to proceed the reaction.  Hence the reaction is free radical reaction.
CH4 + Br. $\rightarrow$ CH3Br
  • Nucleophilic reaction: where negative ions are produced and attack on positive sides. For example the carbonyl carbon is partially positively charged and negative ions will attack on the carbon easily. Hence all the reactions in aldehyde and ketone are nucleophilic reactions involving negative ions.
Nucleophilic Reaction
  • Electrophilic reaction where positive ions are produced and attack on negative sides. For example benzene ring is a rich source of Π electrons.  Hence all the reactions will proceed with the attack of this electron by positively charged ions.  Hence all the reactions in the benzene ring are electrophilic reactions.
Electrophilic Reaction

2) The organic chemistry reactions may further be divided as:

  • Addition reaction: where an atom or group is added across an unsaturated bond.  For example addition of bromine with ethylene gives di-bromo ethane.
CH2=CH2 + Br2 $\rightarrow$ CH2Br-CH2Br
  • Elimination reaction: where a molecule is eliminated from an organic compound to give unsaturated compound. For example ethyl bromide on elimination in the presence of alcoholic KOH gives ethene.
CH3-CH2-Br $\rightarrow$ CH2=CH2 + HBr
  • Oxidation reaction: It is the type of reaction where oxygen is added or hydrogen is removed from an organic compound.  For example ethyl alcohol on strong oxidation in the presence of acidified potassium permanganate gives acetic acid.
Oxidation Reaction

  • Reduction reaction: It is the type of reaction where oxygen is removed or hydrogen is added to an organic compound.  For example acetone on reduction with lithium aluminum hydride gives 2-propanol.
Reduction Reaction

  • Condensation reaction: It is the type of reaction where two organic compounds combine together to give one compound by elimination of simple molecules like water, HCl etc.  For example condensation of acid and alcohol gives ester.
CH3-CH2-OH + CH3COOH $\rightarrow$ CH3CH2OCOCH3 + H2O
  • Polymerization reaction: It is the reaction in which small organic molecules called as monomers combined together to give a large chain of macro molecule called as polymer.  Polymerization of vinyl chloride gives polyvinyl chloride, shortly called as PVC.
Polymerization Reaction

  • Substitution reaction:  It is the reaction in which an atom or group is replaced by another atom or group in an organic compound.  For example, chloro methane reacts with potassium hydroxide to give methanol and potassium chloride.
CH3-Cl + KOH $\rightarrow$ CH3OH + KCl
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Advanced Organic Chemistry

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Organic Chemistry research involves the synthesis of organic molecules and the study of their reaction paths, interactions, and applications. Organic chemistry holds a central place in chemical studies because of its fundamental principles and that its applications touch all other disciplines virtually. Organic chemistry became a defined science in the nineteenth century. Humans have used practical application of chemistry for thousands of years. The discovery of folk medicines, the development of metallurgical techniques and the use of natural dyes are simple organic chemistry examples.

Study of advanced Organic Chemistry include diverse topics such as the development of new synthetic methods for the assembly of complex organic molecules and polymeric materials, organometallic catalysis, organocatalysis, the synthesis of natural and non-natural products with unique biological and physical properties, structure and mechanistic analysis, natural product biosynthesis, theoretical chemistry and molecular modeling, diversity-oriented synthesis, and carbohydrate synthesis. Organic chemistry, defined by the carbon-hydrogen bond, is at the foundation of life.

Organic Chemistry Nomenclature

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Organic molecules contain both carbon and hydrogen. Though many organic chemicals also contain other elements, it is the carbon-hydrogen bond that defines them as organic. Basic hydrocarbon nomenclature is described, including alkanes, alkenes, alkynes, and isomers. Nomenclature is the set of accepted conventions for organic chemistry naming compounds is crucial to a discussion of organic chemistry.
The increasingly large number of organic compounds identified with each passing day, together with the fact that many of these compounds are isomers of other compounds, requires that a systematic nomenclature system be developed.

As organic chemistry grew and developed, many compounds were given trivial names, which are now commonly used and recognized. The rules of nomenclature presented only for general cases. There are two kinds of nomenclature in organic chemistry. One type involves the naming of a compound and having to draw its structure. Alternatively one may be given a structural drawing and be expected to provide a correct name for the molecule.

Physical Organic Chemistry

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Physical organic chemistry is a relatively modern field with deep roots in chemistry. The subject is concerned with investigations of organic chemistry by quantitative and mathematical methods. Physical organic chemist are interested in understanding the underlying principles that determine why atoms behave as they do so.

Organic Chemistry Problems

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Some of the organic chemistry solved problems are given below.

Solved Examples

Question 1: CH3CH2CHO $\xrightarrow[NaOH]{\Delta}$ product A. Find the product A
During aldol condensation reaction the base abstracts the $\alpha$ - H atom of CH3CH2CHO molecule to produce nucleophile. So the product of the above reaction is CH3CH2CH=C(CH3)-CHO

Question 2: In the following reaction
CH3COCH3 $\overset{SeO_{2}}{\rightarrow}$ B.
Find the product B.
SeO2 can oxidizes at the $\alpha$ - carbon.
So the correct answer is CHO-CO-CH3


More topics in Organic Chemistry
Alcohols Hydrocarbons
Nitro Group Organic Chemistry Reactions
Organic Chemistry Nomenclature Chemical Bonds
VSEPR Model Hybrid Orbitals
Models of Chemical Bonding Cycloalkane
Alkenes Alkyne
Amines Benzene
Phenol Aryl Halide
Carbohydrates Carboxylic Acid
Aldehydes and Ketones Ester
Carbon Compounds Organic Chemistry Practice Problems
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