Organic chemistry

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Organic chemistry is the branch of chemistry concerned with the production and study of molecules containing carbon, known as organic compounds. Although there is an overlap with biochemistry, the latter is the specific study of the molecules made by living organisms.

The subject is composed of: aliphatic compounds which deals with chains of carbon which can be modified by functional groups; aromatic compounds which are compounds having a benzene ring or similar group; heterocyclic compounds, compounds with a ring structure; physiologically active compounds which have an effect on the human body; and polymers - long chains of repeating groups.

Aliphatic compounds
Hydrocarbons -- Alkanes -- Alkenes -- Halogenoalkanes - Alcohols -- Ethers -- Aldehydes -- Ketones - Carboxylic acids -- Esters -- Carbohydrates -- Alicyclic compounds -- Amines -- Amides -- Amino acids
Aromatic compounds
Arenes or Aromatic hydrocarbons -- Benzene -- Aromatic amines -- Phenols
Heterocyclic compounds
Physiologically active compounds
Polymers -- Condensation polymers
Organic nomenclature


For some time it was believed that organic compounds could only be produced by living organisms (hence the name) until the synthesis of urea by Friedrich Wöhler in 1828.

Characterisitics of organic substances:

The reason that there are so many carbon compounds is because carbon has the ability to form many carbon chains of different lengths, and rings of different sizes. A lot of carbon compounds are extremly sensitive to heat, and generally decompose below 300'C. They tend not to be so soluble in water compared to many inorganic salts. In contrast to such salts, they tend to be much more soluble in organic solvents such as ether or alcohol. Organic compounds are covalently bonded.