What Is Organic Chemistry?

organic chemistry - structural formula of benzeneOrganic chemistry is a broad field of chemistry that primarily involves compounds composed of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, sulfur, and phosphorous. In an organic compound, the carbon and hydrogen act as a “backbone” in which the structure is formed while oxygen, nitrogen, sulfur, and phosphorous are mainly involved in functional groups; groups that will cause specific areas of the molecule to be reactive. From this reactivity a molecule can undergo synthesis, the process of reacting a compound with another compound or element in order to achieve the desired product, which is a major part of organic chemistry.

The most basic organic molecule, one that’s structure is made of only carbon and hydrogen, can be classified into one of four groups: alkane, alkene, alkyne, and aromatic. The alkane is the simplest of the four because all of the carbons in the compound are single bonded to each other. An alkene compound will contain at least one carbon to carbon double bond in its structure. If there is a pattern of a double bond, single bond, then double bond in the molecule, it may be classified as a diene. An alkyne compound will contain at least one carbon to carbon triple bond. Finally, an aromatic or aryl compound contains a benzene ring within the structure.

There are six major functional groups that have oxygen in them:

  • Alcohols
  • Ethers
  • Ketones
  • Aldehydes
  • Carboxylic Acids
  • Esters