Carbon is unique among the elements in its ability to catenate, to form a wide variety of compounds that contain long chains and/or rings of carbon atoms. Some of the most complex chemical structures known are those of the organic molecules found in living organisms. In spite of their size and complexity, these biological molecules obey the same chemical principles as simpler organic molecules.
- 23.2: Functional Groups and Classes of Organic Compounds
- Functional groups are structural units that determine the chemical reactivity of a molecule under a given set of conditions. Organic compounds are classified into several major categories based on the functional groups they contain. In the systematic names of organic compounds, numbers indicate the positions of functional groups in the basic hydrocarbon framework.
- 23.4: Reactivity of Organic Molecules
- Electrophiles have a strong tendency to react with nucleophiles. The reactivity of a molecule is often affected by the degree of substitution of the carbon bonded to a functional group; the carbon is designated as primary, secondary, or tertiary. Identifying the transient species formed in a chemical reaction, some of which are charged, enables chemists to predict the mechanism and products of the reaction.
- 23.6: Common Classes of Organic Compounds
- The general properties and reactivity of each class of organic compounds is largely determined by its functional groups. In this section, we describe the relationships between structure, physical properties, and reactivity for the major classes of organic compounds. We also show you how to apply these relationships to understand some common reactions that chemists use to synthesize organic compounds.