Definitions and History of Organic Compounds
- Organic compounds contain carbon-hydrogen or carbon-carbon bonds.
- Inorganic compounds may contain carbon but lack carbon-hydrogen or carbon-carbon bonds.
- Alkanes and their derivatives are universally considered organic.
- Halides of carbon without carbon-hydrogen and carbon-carbon bonds are sometimes considered inorganic.
- Compounds of carbon with nitrogen and oxygen may be considered inorganic.
- Vitalism was the belief that organic compounds were formed by a vital force possessed only by living organisms.
- Jöns Jacob Berzelius argued for the existence of a regulative force within living bodies.
- Friedrich Wöhler's experiments disproved vitalism by synthesizing organic compounds from inorganic ones.
- Modern scientific nomenclature still distinguishes between organic and inorganic compounds.
- The term 'carbogenic' has been proposed as an alternative to 'organic'.
Vitalism and Discrediting of Vitalism
- Vitalism taught that organic compounds were fundamentally different from inorganic compounds.
- It was based on the belief that substances found in organic nature were formed by a vital force.
- Vitalism was discredited after experiments by Friedrich Wöhler and others.
- Wöhler synthesized organic compounds from inorganic salts, disproving the need for vitalism.
- The formulation of modern ideas about atomic theory and chemical elements further questioned vitalism.
Modern Classification and Ambiguities
- The modern definition of organic compounds includes any carbon-containing compound.
- The term 'organic' does not necessarily imply a connection to living organisms.
- Some carbon-containing compounds are excluded from the definition of organic, such as alloys containing carbon.
- There is no consensus on which carbon-containing compounds should be excluded from the organic category.
- Inorganic compounds include metal carbonates, simple oxides of carbon, and cyanide derivatives without organic residues.
Exclusions from Organic Compounds
- Alloys containing carbon, such as steel, are generally excluded from organic compounds.
- Metal and semimetal carbides, including ionic and covalent carbides, are considered inorganic.
- Metal carbonates, simple oxides of carbon, and allotropes of carbon are also excluded from organic compounds.
- Cyanide derivatives without organic residues, halides of carbon without hydrogen, and other exotic oxocarbons are inorganic.
- Some metal carbonyls, like nickel tetracarbonyl, are classified as organometallic compounds and may be debated as organic.
Classification of Organic Compounds
- Organic compounds can be classified as natural or synthetic.
- Heteroatoms can be used to further classify organic compounds, such as organometallic compounds and organophosphorus compounds.
- Size is another classification criterion, distinguishing between small molecules and polymers.
- Natural compounds are produced by plants or animals.
- Many natural compounds are still extracted from natural sources due to cost considerations.
- Examples of natural compounds include sugars, alkaloids, terpenoids, and certain nutrients.
- Synthetic compounds are prepared by reactions of other compounds.
- Many polymers, including plastics and rubbers, are organic synthetic compounds.
- Synthetic compounds can be either naturally occurring compounds or artificial compounds.
Organic compound Data Sources