What is Organic Chemistry | Applications | Examples


You know that the element carbon has the unique property called catenation. Due to which it forms covalent bonds with other carbon atoms. It also forms covalent bonds with other elements like hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, sulphur, phosphorus and halogens. The resulting compounds are studied under a separate branch of chemistry called Organic Chemistry.

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Organic compounds are vital for sustaining life on earth and include complex like genetic information bearing decarboxylic acid (DNA) and proteins. That constitute essential compounds of our blood, muscles and skin. Organic chemicals appear in materials like clothing, fuels, polymers, dyes and medicines. These are some of the important areas of application of these compounds.

Science of organic chemistry is about two hundred years old. Around the year 1780, chemists began to distinguish between organic compounds obtained from plants and animals and inorganic compounds are prepared from mineral sources. Berzilius, a Swedish chemist proposed thata ‘vital force’ was responsible for the formation of organic compounds. However, this notion was rejected in 1828 when F. Wohler synthesised an organic compound,urea from an inorganic compound, ammonium cyanate.


Before the 18th century, chemists generally believed that compounds obtained from living organisms were endowed with a vital force that distinguished them from inorganic compounds. According to concept of vitalism (vital force theory), organic matter was endowed with a ‘vital force’. During the first half of the nineteenth century, some of the first systematic studies of organic compounds were reported. Around 1816 Michel Chevreul started a study of soaps made from various fats and alkalies. He seperated the acids that, in combination with the alkali, produced the soap.

Since these were all individual compounds. He demonstrated that it was possible to make a chemical change in various fats producing new compounds, without ‘vital force’. In 1828 Friedrich Wohler produced the organic chemical urea (carbamide), a constituent of urine, from inorganic starting materials is what is now called the Wohler synthesis. Although Wohler himself was cautions about claiming he had disproved vitalism. This was the first time a substance thought to be organic was synthesized in the laboratory without biological (organic) starting materials. The event is now generally accepted as indeed disproving the doctrine of vitalism.

In 1856 William Henry Perkin, while trying to manufacture quinine accidentally produced the organic dye now known as Perkin’s mauve. His discovery, made widely known through its financial success, greatly increased in organic chemistry.

A crucial breakthrough for organic chemistry was the concept of chemical structure, developed independently in 1858 by both Friedrih August Kekule and Archibald Scott Couper. Both researches suggested that tetravalent carbon atoms could link to each other to form a carbon lattice. And that the detailed patterns of atomic bonding could be discerned by skillful interpretations of appropriate chemical reactions.

In the early part of the 20th century, polymers and enzymes were shown to be large organic molecules. And petroleum was shown to be of biological origin. The majority of chemical compounds occurring in biological organisms are carbon compounds. So the association between organic chemistry and biochemistry is so close that biochemistry might be reagarded as in assence a branch of organic chemistry.

Applications of Organic Chemistry

applications of organic chemistry
  • It is used in the production of soaps, shampoos, powders, and perfumes.
  • Various fuels like natural gas, petroleum are also organic compounds.
  • The fabrics that we use to make various dresses are also made from organic compounds.
  • Chemistry plays an important and useful role towards the development and growth of a number of industries. This includes industries like glass, cement, paper, textile, leather, dye etc. We also see huge applications of chemistry in industries like paints, pigments, petroleum, sugar, plastics, pharmaceuticals.

Examples of Organic Chemistry In Daily Life

Organic chemistry is the study of carbon compounds. Which extends to understanding chemical reactions in living organisms and products derived from them. There numerous examples of organic chemistry in everyday life.

Here are examples of organic chemistry at work-

  1. Polymers consist of long chains and branches of molecules. Examples include nylon, acrylic, PVC, polycarbonate, cellulose, and polyethylene.
  2. Petrochemicals are chemicals derived from crude oil or petroleum. Fractional distillation separates the raw material into organic compounds according to their different boiling points. Examples include detergents, dyes, food additives, natural gas, and medicines.
  3. Although both are used for cleaning, soap and detergent are two different examples of organic chemistry. Soap is made by the saponification reaction. Which reacts to hydroxide with an organic molecule to produce glycerol and crude soap. While soap is an emulsifier, detergents tackle oily, greasy soiling mainly because they are surfactants. Which lower the surface tension of the water and increase the solubility of organic compounds.
  4. Wheather a perfume fragrance comes from a flower or a lab, the molecules you smell and enjoy are an example of organic chemistry.
  5. The cosmetics industry is a lucrative sector of organic chemistry. Chemists examine changes in the skin in the response to metabolic and environmental factors, formulate products to address skin problems and enhance beauty, and analyze how cosmetics interact with the skin and other products.

Scope of Organic Chemistry

The chemistry of compounds of the carbon covers a wide field, wider than that covered by an other element. Its scope embraces all living matter, as well as the vast number of non-living substances. Which are produced through the agency of life. Moreover, it includes a very great number of compounds unrelated to life or to living processes. Which have been built up by the chemist in the laboratory by methods he has devised.

Wohler synthesis of Urea in 1828 heralded the birth of modern chemistry. The Art of synthesis is as old as organic chemistry itself. Natural product chemistry is firmly rooted in the science of degrading a molecule to known smaller molecules using known chemical reactions. And conforming the assigned structure by chemical synthesis from small, well known molecules using well established synthetic chemistry techniques.

Once this art of synthesizing a molecule was mastered. Chemists attempted to modify bioactive molecules in an attempt to develop new drugs. And also to unravel the mystery of biomolecular interactions. Until the middle of the 20th century, organic chemists approached the task of synthesis of molecules as independent tailor made projects, guided mainly by chemical intuition. And a strong foundation was laid for the development of mechanistic principles of organic reactions, new reactions and reagents.

More than a century of such intensive studies on the chemistry of carbohydrates, alkaloids, terpenes and steroids laid the foundation for the development of logical approaches for the synthesis of molecules.

Organic chemistry encompasses a very number of compounds, and our previous discussion and illustrations have focused on theirstructural characteristics. Now that we can recognize these actors, we turn to the roles they are inclined to play in the scientific drama staged by the multitude of chemical reactions that define organic chemistry.

Ultimately the best way to achieve proficiency in organic chemistry is to understand how reactions take place. And to recognize the various factors that influence their course. The chemistry of the compounds of carbon covers a wide field, wider than that covered by any other element.

Its scope embraces all living matter, as well as the vast number of non-living substances. Which are produced through the agency of life. Moreover, it includes a very great number of compounds unrelated to life or to living processes. Which have been built up by the chemist In the laboratory by methods he has devised.

Since the compounds of carbon containing a moderate number of atoms of the element are usually crystalline or capable of becoming crystalline. And there are obvious disadvantages attaching to the use of potentially crystalline substances as the basis of living matter.

It has been found necessary to employ the more complex carbon derivatives containing many hundreds of elemental atoms. Which by reason of their high molecular complexities no longer possess, or seem capable of acquiring, a crystalline structure.

But belong to the class of jelly-like or colloidal substances are built up, or any information regarding the way. In which they are utilized to bring about the changes occurring during animal and vegetable metabolism.

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