The introductory part of the organic chemistry course has three major modules: Molecular architecture (structure), molecular dynamics (conformational analysis), and molecular transformations (chemical reactions). An understanding of the first two is crucial to an understanding of the third one. The rest of the organic chemistry course will be largely spent on studying different kinds of reactions and mechanisms. A summary of key concepts follows.
1. MOLECULAR ARCHITECTURE - Basic principles of molecular structure.
a) Atomic structure
b) Orbitals and hybridization
c) Covalent bonding
d) Lewis structures and resonance forms
e) Isomerism, structural and geometric isomers
f) Polarity, functional groups, nomenclature systems
g) Three-dimensional structures, stereochemistry, stereoisomers.
2. MOLECULAR DYNAMICS - Basic principles of molecular motion involving rotation around single bonds and no bond breakage. The focus is on conformations and their energy relationships, especially in reference to alkanes and cycloalkanes (conformational analysis).
a) Steric interactions
b) Torsional strain and Newman projections
c) Angle strain in cycloalkanes
d) Conformations of cyclohexane and terminology associated with it
3. MOLECULAR TRANSFORMATIONS - This is the part that comprises the bulk of organic chemistry courses. It is the study of chemical reactions and the principles that rule transformations. There are three major aspects of this module. In organic chemistry I we will focus largely on the first two, and leave the study of synthetic strategy for later.
a) Reaction mechanisms - Step by step accounts of how electron movement takes place when bonds are broken and formed, and the conditions that favor these processes (driving forces). An understanding of the basic concepts of thermodynamics and kinetics is important here.
b) Energetics - An account of energy changes and/or requirements that take place during the course of a transformation.
c) Synthetic strategy - An understanding of the specific chemistry of functional groups and how it can be used to design molecules with specific structural features.