Organic compounds are binary compounds of carbon and hydrogen, i.e., hydrocarbons, and their derivatives, which directly or indirectly involve living matters. Carbon is an essential element of organic compounds and remains covalently bonded with other elements like hydrogen; many organic compounds contain oxygen; some contain nitrogen; and a few contain sulfur, phosphorous, halogens, and even metals. The study of carbon compounds is simply referred to as “organic chemistry.”
There are several carbon compounds that are not considered organic because of their properties. For example, carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, hormones, petroleum products, drugs, dyes, plastics gums, rubber, etc. are organic compounds whereas carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, carbon sulfide, metal carbonates, met bicarbonates, metal cyanides, isocyanides, isocyanates, thiocyanates, thiocyanates, etc are inorganic compounds.
How organic Compounds are unique in character?
Organic compounds have reversal unique characteristics which make the sufficient foundation for the study:
1. A large number of compounds
Organic compounds cover a wider range in the chemical arena, There are about 5 million organic compounds known and thousands of new compounds are being discovered annually.
2. Chemical and physical properties
The composition, structure, and properties of organic compounds differ remarkably from that of inorganic compounds which makes separate studies desirable. carbon is an essential element of an organic compound with a covalent bond. These compounds possess low melting and boiling point with a lower solubility in water and higher solubility in the polar solvent. These are inflammable in nature and their solutions are non-conductor of electricity. Organic compounds exhibit isomerism and show usually slow chemical reactions. Although organic compounds are made up of few elements yet many of organic molecules have complex structures and very high molecular weights. for example, molecules of proteins, polyethylene, etc are made of millions of atoms or monomeric units.
3. The unique character of carbon
Carbon atoms have the ability to combine with one another to form long chains and rings of varying lengths and shapes. This property of carbon is called catenation and is responsible for the variety and a large number of organic compounds.
Origin of Organic Compounds
In the early stage of the development of chemistry, it was considered that all organic compounds could be originated from plants and animals only through some natural forces. This concept of the involvement of living beings in the production of the organic compound for the first time was proposed by Berzelius in 1815 as a ‘vital force theory.’ The word ‘Vita’ has been derived from a Latin word meaning ‘life’. As long as this concept prevailed no effort was made to produce organic compounds in the laboratory and the vital force theory was unchallenged for a long time.
Later in 1828, the german chemist, Friedrich Wohler obtained urea from ammonium cyanite by heating. Urea is an organic compound that can be isolated from urine. The synthesis of an organic compound from inorganic compounds broke down the foundation for the synthesis of organic compounds, i.e. vital force theory, and laid down the foundation for the synthesis of organic compounds in the laboratory. Several other organic compounds were synthesized by different chemists after this synthetic milestone. Hennel synthesized ethyl alcohol in 1828, Kolbe synthesized acetic acid in 1845, and Bertholet synthesized methane in 1856 followed by many other syntheses.
Hence, the concept of vital force theory for the origin of organic compounds has been shifted to the composition of the compounds. All organic compounds contain carbon irrespective of their origin or the sources. Nowadays, vital forces theory falls short to define organic compounds in a broader concept.
Classification of Organic Compound
Sources of Organic Compound
All the organic compounds were assumed to be originated from plants and animals in the early days like sugars, starch, butter, cheese, morphine, caffeine, resins, etc. However, with the advancement of chemistry so many organic compounds have been synthesized from simple compounds like dyes, rubber, fibers, plastics, drugs, etc. Many important organic compounds still are derived from living sources directly or indirectly.
Importance of Organic Chemistry
Organic chemistry is closely related to our daily activities. Each step of our life needs the application of organic compounds. The food we eat is mainly organic in nature. The changes with this food undergo in our bodies are organic chemical reactions. Metabolism, growth, and maintenance of plant and animal bodies involve organic chemistry. The clothes we wear like cotton, silk, wool, nylon, polyester, etc are organic compounds. Dyes and colors, natural gas, petroleum products, coal, etc are used as means of fuels in power generation and transportation and are organic substances.
Many organic compounds such as antibiotics, analgesics, antiseptics, anesthetics, etc are used as medicine in our daily life. Most of the agrochemicals like insecticides, herbicides, pesticides, fungicides, rodenticides, etc are organic compounds. Hormones, vitamins, enzymes, etc are complex organic compounds. Cosmetics like perfumes, nail polishes, rubber, oils, creams, lotion, etc are organic compounds in our daily lives. Plastic, rubber, resins, etc have wider applications in human civilization which are polymers. Therefore organic chemistry has extensive applications in human civilization.