Organic Chemistry


Organic chemistry is the study of chemical compounds whose molecules are based on a framework of carbon atoms, typically in combination with hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen. Despite this rather limited set of elements, there are more organic compounds known than there are compounds that do not contain carbon. Adding to the importance of organic chemistry is the fact that very many of the chemical compounds that make modern life possible—such as pharmaceuticals, pesticides, herbicides, plastics, pigments, and dyes—can be classed as organic. Organic chemistry, therefore, impacts many other scientific subjects; and knowledge of organic chemistry is essential for a detailed understanding of materials science, environmental science, molecular biology, and medicine. This course gives an overview of the structures, physical properties, and reactivity of organic compounds. We will see that organic compounds can be classified into families of similar compounds based upon certain groups of atoms that always behave in a similar manner no matter what molecule they are in. These functional groups will enable us to rationalize the vast number of reactions that organic reagents undergo. We will also look at the synthesis of large, complicated molecules from simple starting materials, how organic compounds can be separated and purified, and the techniques that are used to identify and determine the molecular structure of organic compounds. In the laboratory section of the course, we will develop the techniques and skills required to synthesize, purify, and identify organic compounds. Organic chemistry is a key requirement for pre-med students and is strongly encouraged for all others who are interested in the biological and physical sciences. Prerequisite: General Chemistry or its equivalent.