Organic Chemistry Help
Introduction to Organic Chemistry
Organic chemistry, based originally on the study of living things like molds, plants, algae, red blood cells, gnats, and elephants, to name a few, is focused on compounds that include carbon. It is estimated that greater than 95% of all known chemicals contain carbon. At last count, there were over two million known organic compounds, nearly twenty times more than all the other known chemicals combined.
At one time, it was thought that organic compounds contained some type of “vital force” since they were once living organisms. However, when the organic compound urea (CH 4 ON 2 ) was made in the laboratory in 1828 by Friedrich Wohler out of ammonium carbonate it was the first time an organic compound had been made from inorganic materials off the shelf. Chemists, then, started thinking about the possibilities of organic molecules and their reactions in a whole different way.
This largest group of covalently bonded compounds makes up the central study of petroleum-based chemicals, plastics, synthetic fibers, and biological chemistry. Petroleum, also known as crude oil, is made up of organic compounds from the decomposed remains of plants and animals that died millions of years ago.
Organic chemistry is the chemistry of carbon.
The six electrons of carbon fill up the 1s, 2s, 2p orbitals. The four valence electrons tend to stay unpaired, allowing carbon to form four bonds. Carbon can form open chains, closed chains (rings), and a combination of open and closed chains.
The wide variety of carbon-containing compounds found in nature can be related to carbon’s talent. Carbon is able to form long-chain molecules like decane (C 10 H 22 ), branching macromolecules like natural rubber, and ring structures like menthol (from peppermint).
In the same group (IVA) as carbon, silicon is very much like carbon in atomic structure. It forms silicon-silicon covalent bonds, but since silicon is over double the size of carbon, the silicon bond lengths are longer and weaker. It is like a bridge between two river banks. The bridge across a 4 meter (12 foot) wide stream will be much stronger and more stable than one across an 8 meter (28 foot) stream, when the middle is not supported.
Figure 10.1 shows some common organic molecules.
The broad group of organic compounds called hydrocarbons are made up of, you guessed it, molecules containing only carbon and hydrogen. Hydrocarbons are perhaps the easiest molecules in all of chemistry to learn. Once you get the basics, the rest is a matter of plugging in additional element groups.
Hydrocarbons are divided into subgroups depending on how carbon and hydrogen have bonded. Those hydrocarbons made up of only single bonds between carbon and hydrogen are known as alkanes . When carbon forms a double bond with hydrogen in a molecule, the subgroup is known as alkenes . Similarly, molecules with triple bonds between carbon and hydrogen are known as alkynes . The two simplest members of the alkane group are methane and ethane.
Complete carbon bonding is seen in methane (CH 4 ). Carbon forms a tetrahedral (four-sided) compound with hydrogen, sharing electrons at bond angles of about 109 degrees. Figure 10.2 shows methane with bond angles shown.
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