An Introduction to Organic Chemistry

Chemistry is often defined as the study of the nature, properties, and composition of matter, and how these may undergo change on manipulation. The breadth of this definition extends chemistry into other sciences, leading to fields such as geochemistry, atmospheric chemistry, ocean chemistry, astrochemistry and nanochemistry, to name a few; along with the well-established disciplines of biochemistry, inorganic chemistry, organic chemistry and physical chemistry.

Organic chemistry is most commonly and simply defined as the chemistry of carbon compounds. Compared with hydrogen and helium, carbon is not an abundant element in the universe, nor in the solar system; but it is an essential element of life. Indeed, four elements: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen and oxygen make up most of the matter found in living organisms. Trace elements such as sulfur, phosphorous, sodium, potassium and iron, to name a few, also play an important role in the chemistry of life; but it is the unique properties of carbon that permits the immense diversity of compounds associated with life. From simple single-carbon compounds such as methane and carbon dioxide to the more complex structures found in vitamins, hormones and enzymes, and ultimately to very large macromolecules like DNA, carbon is the underlying essential structural component.

Table of Contents

This modification of the Virtual Text is designed to be used as a class textbook. Clicking on a topic in the left column will display a sub-category menu on the right. Special topics are listed on the right below, and interactive problem sets are incorporated at appropriate stages.The alphabetical index at the bottom includes links to the full virtual text site. More

    Course Contents

Structure & Bonding
Chemical Reactivity I
Aliphatic Hydrocarbons
Stereoisomers Part I
Chemical Reactivity II
Alkenes & Alkynes I
Alkenes & Alkynes II
Conjugation & Aromaticity
Stereoisomers Part II
Alkyl Halides
Alcohols and Ethers
Benzene & Derivatives
Aldehydes & Ketones
Carboxylic Acids
Carboxylic Derivatives

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Special Topics

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©1999 William Reusch, All rights reserved   (most recent revision 2/27/2008)
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