Organic chemistry – 6 facts

6 facts about the diversity and role of organic compounds in our lives General Knowledge

6 facts about the diversity and role of organic compounds in our lives.

Organic chemistry is a science that is important for each of us and that we encounter on a daily basis. Many people do not even think about the fact that this science exists. Nevertheless, in 1828, Friedrich Weller was the first to obtain an organic compound from an inorganic compound – urea. Since then, the countdown of this wonderful and interesting science began. Chemistry is the science of substances and their transformations. Millions of chemical compounds are currently known, and if we look at the structures of these substances, it turns out that the vast majority of these compounds are organic molecules.

1. Organics around us

Only a small part of chemical compounds belongs to inorganic molecules, and the rest of the diversity of the chemical world is compounds that are obtained by organic chemists. Of course, not only by organic chemists, because every second in nature each of us synthesizes the same organic molecules. For example, we are made up of proteins, and these proteins, in turn, are built from amino acids, which are one of the simplest classes of organic compounds.

Why is this science so important? Yes, because everything around is organic chemistry. For example, clothes are dyed with organic compounds. In the Middle Ages, many dyes were obtained from nature, from plant materials. The best-known compound of this type is indigo, a dark blue dye that we now see every day, since jeans are dyed with this very substance. Previously, such dyes were fabulously expensive, but now they are obtained synthetically and are available to everyone.

Every day we encounter polymers that are derivatives of organic compounds and are synthesized from simpler monomers that are derivatives of organic chemistry.

2. Organoelement compounds

Organic chemistry is not only the chemistry of carbon, hydrogen, and the compounds that form these elements. This is a somewhat primitive look that is given to schoolchildren. Organic chemistry is a very rich field, and, of course, a very large part of modern organic chemistry is the chemistry of organoelement compounds. Here we can talk about the mass of various derivatives that contain the “carbon-heteroatom” bond, and practically all elements of the periodic system of elements are included in the field of chemistry of organoelement compounds. Perhaps the most surprising are compounds that have a carbon-metal bond, but these are the ones that organic chemists deal with almost every day, since substances such as butyllithium, for example,

It can be said that in the field of acids, organic chemistry offers great advantages compared to inorganic chemistry. For example, trifluoromethanesulfonic acid, which is one of the strongest acids, has such properties precisely due to the fact that it has a trifluoromethyl group, an acceptor moiety that causes the proton of this sulfonic acid to become very acidic.

The chemistry of organoelement compounds is apparently just as inexhaustible as the chemistry of heterocyclic compounds, since the variation of elements in the same molecule can be practically unlimited. The variation of several heteroatoms in one molecule, of several elements creates the richest possibilities. For example, the chemistry of phosphorus-containing compounds has been developing very actively in recent years. Modern catalysis cannot do without a variety of phosphine ligands; asymmetric catalysis in particular requires the presence of this important element.

It is important to note that organic chemistry is the most creative chemistry. It is organic chemists who can create any molecules, not only in pursuit of the creation of some new properties, but also on the basis of some structural considerations. Variation of elements in the same molecule, which can be both large and small, opens up the richest opportunities for the development of science and the creation of new substances and materials with desired properties.

3. Chemistry of heterocyclic compounds

Here we should definitely mention the most important area of ​​organic chemistry – the chemistry of heterocyclic compounds. This is a truly limitless field for various structural modifications, since chemists can vary not only the ring size, but also fill it with various heteroatoms. For example, the simplest heterocycles contain a five-membered ring, such as thiophene (a five-membered ring with a sulfur atom) or pyrrole containing a nitrogen atom. Variation of heteroatoms creates a very large field for structural modification, therefore, heterocyclic chemistry is the most important field for the search for new substances used in medicine, agrochemistry and other types of human activity.

4. Drug development

Probably the most important and most demanded direction in the development of organic chemistry at the present time is the search and  synthesis of new drugs.. Each of us wants to be healthy, so drugs are synthesized and developed by many large companies. Currently, in order to bring a new drug to the market, it is necessary to spend about 4 billion dollars, but this money pays off. For example, in 2013, a medicine for the treatment of hepatitis C was created, one tablet of which costs no less than a thousand US dollars. Of course, the cost of this drug includes development, as well as the funds that the company spends on various clinical studies, but nevertheless, organic chemistry forms the basis, since most synthetic drugs are organic compounds.

5. Organic chemistry in agriculture

A large number of organic compounds are in demand in agriculture. For example, substances such as pyrethroids are used to control insects, and again these are organic compounds. Initially, the first pyrethroids were obtained from plant materials, and then, by complex structural modification, modern substances were obtained that are very effective and have a significant effect on insects that infect agricultural products in one way or another.

These structures may vary. In the case of pyrethroids, the presence of a cyclopropane ring is an important structural fragment. Agrochemistry is also a very large area associated with organic chemistry, and here we can talk about drugs such as fungicides, that is, plant protection products from fungi. Many modern compounds of this type contain heterocyclic fragments, for example, a triazole ring.

6. Organic electronics

We all think that electricity is a process that is directly related to metals, but this is not entirely true. Organic chemistry has actively wedged itself into this area, and, for example, organic electronics , that is, electronics that uses organic molecules as a structural physical basis, is advancing by leaps and bounds. Here we can talk about substances that are used in solar batteries, light-emitting diodes. For example, the latest generation of color TVs contain the so-called OLED display, organic light-emitting devices.. That is, these derivatives are obtained using organic chemistry and are very important in our lives, since electronics surrounds each of us. Every person has a mobile phone, modern life without it is no longer possible. What is the display of this phone? Again, displays often use simple organic molecules in their composition. The liquid crystal substances used for this purpose are organic compounds.


Alexander Stephenson

Candidate of Chemical Sciences, editor-in-chief of Lecturer at several international online schools, member of the jury of chemistry competitions and author of scientific articles.

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