Organic compound: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Methane is one of the simplest organic compounds

An organic compound is any member of a large class of chemical compounds whose molecules contain carbon. For historical reasons discussed below, a few types of compounds such as carbonates, simple oxides of carbon and cyanides, as well as the allotropes of carbon, are considered inorganic. The distinction between "organic" and "inorganic" carbon compounds while "useful in organizing the vast subject of chemistry... is somewhat arbitrary".[1]

Organic chemistry is the science concerned with all aspects of organic compounds. Organic synthesis is the methodology of their preparation.





The name "organic" is historical, dating back to the 1st century.[citation needed] For many centuries, Western alchemists believed in vitalism, the theory that certain compounds could only be synthesized from their classical elements — Earth, Water, Air and Fire — by action of a "life-force" (vis vitalis) possessed only by organisms. The theory implied that these "organic" compounds were fundamentally different from the "inorganic" compounds that could be obtained from the elements by chemical manipulation.

Vitalism survived for a while even after the rise of modern atomic theory and the replacement of the Aristotelian elements by those we know today. It first came under question in 1824, when Friedrich Wöhler synthesized oxalic acid, a compound known to occur only in living organisms, from cyanogen.[citation needed] A more decisive experiment was Wöhler's 1828 synthesis of urea from the inorganic salts potassium cyanate and ammonium sulfate. Urea had long been considered to be an "organic" compound as it was known to occur only in the urine of living organisms. Wöhler's experiments were followed by many others, where increasingly complex "organic" substances were produced from "inorganic" ones without the involvement of any living organism.[citation needed]

Modern classification

Even after vitalism was disproved, the distinction between "organic" and "inorganic" compounds has been retained to this day but is now merely a tool for organizing the huge and growing body of chemical knowledge[1] — even though many of the "organic compounds" known today have no connection whatsoever, material or structural, to any substance found in living organisms.

There is no "official" definition of an organic compound. Some text books define an organic compound as one containing one or more C-H bonds; others include C-C bonds in the definition. Others state that if a molecule contains carbon it is organic.[2]

Even the broader definition of "carbon-containing molecules" requires the exclusion of carbon-containing alloys (including steel), a relatively small number of carbon-containing compounds such as metal carbonates and carbonyls, simple oxides of carbon and cyanides, as well as the allotropes of carbon and simple carbon halides and sulfides, which are usually considered to be inorganic.

The "C-H" definition excludes compounds which are historically and practically considered to be organic. Neither urea nor oxalic acid are organic by this definition, yet they were two key compounds in the Vitalism debate. The IUPAC Blue Book on organic nomenclature specifically mentions urea[3] and oxalic acid.[4] Other compounds lacking C-H bonds that are also traditionally considered to be organic include benzenehexol, mesoxalic acid, and carbon tetrachloride. Mellitic acid, which contains no C-H bonds, is considered to be a possible organic substance in Martian soil. All do, however, contain C-C bonds.[5]

The "C-H bond only" rule also leads to somewhat arbitrary divisions in sets of carbon-fluorine compounds, as for example Teflon is considered by this rule "inorganic" but Tefzel organic; similarly many Halons are considered inorganic while the rest are organic. For these and other reasons, most sources consider C-H compounds to be only a subset of "organic" compounds.

To summarize: Most carbon-containing compounds are organic, and most compounds with a C-H bond are organic. Not all organic compounds necessarily contain C-H bonds.


See Organic chemistry#Classification of organic substances

Organic compounds may be classified in a variety of ways. One major distinction is between natural and synthetic compounds. Organic compounds can also be classified or subdivided by the presence of heteroatoms, e.g. organometallic compounds which feature bonds between carbon and a metal, and organophosphorus compounds which feature bonds between carbon and a phosphorus.

Another distinction, based upon the size of organic compounds, distinguishes between small molecules and polymers.

Natural compounds

Natural compounds refer to those that are produced by plants or animals. Many of these are still extracted from natural sources because they would be far too expensive to be produced artificially. Examples include most sugars, some alkaloids and terpenoids, certain nutrients such as vitamin B12, and in general, those natural products with large or stereoisometrically complicated molecules present in reasonable concentrations in living organisms.

Further compounds of prime importance in biochemistry are antigens, carbohydrates, enzymes, hormones, lipids and fatty acids, neurotransmitters, nucleic acids, proteins, peptides and amino acids, vitamins and fats and oils.

Synthetic compounds

Compounds that are prepared by reaction of other compounds are referred to as "synthetic". They may be either compounds that already are found in plants or animals(semi synthetic compounds), or those that do not occur naturally.

Many polymers, including all plastics, are organic compounds.


The IUPAC nomenclature of organic compounds slightly differs from the CAS nomenclature.


  • The CAS database is the most comprehensive repository for data on organic compounds. The search tool SciFinder is offered.
  • The Beilstein database contains information on 9.8 million substances, covers the scientific literature from 1771 to the present, and is today accessible via CrossFire. Structures and a large diversity of physical and chemical properties is available for each substance, with reference to original literature.

There is a great number of more specialized databases for diverse branches of organic chemistry.

Structure determination

See Structure determination

Today, the main tools are proton and carbon-13 NMR spectroscopy and X-ray crystallography.

See also


  1. ^ a b Spencer L. Seager, Michael R. Slabaugh. Chemistry for Today: general, organic, and biochemistry. Thomson Brooks/Cole, 2004, p. 342. ISBN 053439969X
  2. ^ Robert T. Morrison, Robert N. Boyd, and Robert K. Boyd, Organic Chemistry, 6th edition (Benjamin Cummings, 1992, ISBN 0-13-643669-2
  3. ^ "IUPAC Blue Book, Urea and Its Derivatives Rule C-971". Retrieved 2009-11-22. 
  4. ^ "IUPAC Blue Book, Table 28(a) Carboxylic acids and related groups. Unsubstituted parent structures". Retrieved 2009-11-22. 
  5. ^ S. A. Benner, K. G. Devine, L. N. Matveeva, D. H. Powell (2000). "The missing organic molecules on Mars". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 97 (6): 2425–2430. doi:10.1073/pnas.040539497. PMID 10706606. 

Simple English

is one of the simplest organic compounds]]

Organic compounds are carbon-based compounds. Organic compounds contain carbon bonds in which at least one carbon atom is covalently linked to an atom of another type (usually hydrogen, oxygen or nitrogen). Most polymers are organic compounds.



The name "organic" is a historical name from the 19th century.

People believed that only living things could make organic compounds and "dead" things (such as minerals) could make inorganic compounds. However, Friedrich Wöhler proved this wrong because certain compounds in urine were thought to be inorganic, but urine came from a living thing.

Kinds of organic compounds

There are natural organic compounds, and synthetic ones. Their structure may be described by using names, and making diagrams.

One way of showing the molecule is by drawing its structural formula. Because molecules can have complicated structures, people have made ways to show them in simple language. One way is to use line diagrams. Each atom is shown by a letter, and connected by a line to each atom with wnich it is has a covalent bond. One line means a single bond, two lines means a double bond and so on.

Because there is in an infinite number of possible organic compounds, language is needed to give a unique name to each one. The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry, or IUPAC, made a system for doing this. Although an IUPAC name makes every single possible molecule unique, the names are often long and complicated, so in everyday life, trivial names--unofficial but widely understood names--are used, such as the trivial names Paracetamol, Tylenol, and Acetaminophen, which are used for a compound whose IUPAC name is N-(4-hydroxyphenyl) acetamide.

Natural Compounds

Natural compounds are compounds made by plants or animals. These could also be made in a lab, but many of these compounds are taken from nature because it is easier and less expensive to do it that way. Commonnatural compounds are: amino acids, proteins, carbohydrates, many antibiotics like Penicillin and Amoxicillin.

Synthetic compounds

Synthetic compounds are those made by people. Sometimes, this is done by taking something natural and changing the molecule in a small way, such as making glycerine from vegetable oils. Other compounds are synthesized in long, complicated reactions with many steps. Plastics are sometimes mostly natural, and other kinds are manufactured.


Since a compound is often first discovered in nature instead of being made on purpose in a lab, people may know the compound exists, and even know what it does sometimes, but not know exactly what atoms it is made of and how it is arranged. There are several ways of taking an unknown compound and finding out this structure:

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