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4: Organic Chemistry - Alkanes & Halogenated Hydrocarbons

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    We begin our study of organic chemistry with the alkanes, compounds containing only two elements, carbon and hydrogen, and having only single bonds. There are several other kinds of hydrocarbons, distinguished by the types of bonding between carbon atoms and by the properties that result from that bonding. We will first examine hydrocarbons with double bonds, with triple bonds, and with a special kind of bonding called aromaticity. Then we will study some compounds considered to be derived from hydrocarbons by replacing one or more hydrogen atoms with an oxygen-containing group. Finally, we focuse on organic acids and bases, after which we will be ready to look at the chemistry of life itself—biochemistry—in the remaining five chapters.

    • 12.E: Organic Chemistry: Alkanes & Halogenated Hydrocarbons (Exercises)
      Select problems and solutions to chapter.
    • 12.S: Organic Chemistry: Alkanes & Halogenated Hydrocarbons (Summary)
      Summary of Chapter.
    • 3.P: Problems for Chapter 3
    • 4.1: Organic Chemistry
      Today organic chemistry is the study of the chemistry of the carbon compounds, and inorganic chemistry is the study of the chemistry of all other elements. Organic chemistry is the study of carbon compounds, nearly all of which also contain hydrogen atoms.
    • 4.2: Structures and Names of Alkanes
      Simple alkanes exist as a homologous series, in which adjacent members differ by a \(CH_2\) unit.
    • 4.3: Branched-Chain Alkanes
      Alkanes with four or more carbon atoms can exist in isomeric forms.
    • 4.4: Condensed Structural and Line-Angle Formulas
      Condensed chemical formulas show the hydrogen atoms (or other atoms or groups) right next to the carbon atoms to which they are attached. Line-angle formulas imply a carbon atom at the corners and ends of lines. Each carbon atom is understood to be attached to enough hydrogen atoms to give each carbon atom four bonds.
    • 4.5: IUPAC Nomenclature
      Alkanes have both common names and systematic names, specified by IUPAC.
    • 4.6: Physical Properties of Alkanes
      Alkanes are nonpolar compounds that are low boiling and insoluble in water.
    • 4.7: Chemical Properties of Alkanes
      The alkanes and cycloalkanes, with the exception of cyclopropane, are probably the least chemically reactive class of organic compounds. Alkanes contain strong carbon-carbon single bonds and strong carbon-hydrogen bonds. The carbon-hydrogen bonds are only very slightly polar. Alkanes can be burned, alkanes can react with some of the halogens, breaking carbon-hydrogen bonds, and alkanes can crack by breaking the carbon-carbon bonds.
    • 4.8: Halogenated Hydrocarbons
      The replacement of an hydrogen atom on an alkane by a halogen atom—F, Cl, Br, or I—forms a halogenated compound.
    • 4.9: Cycloalkanes
      Many organic compounds have cyclic structures.
    • 4.10: Organic Chemistry - Alkanes & Halogenated Hydrocarbons
      Hydrocarbons are the simplest organic compounds, but they have interesting physiological effects. These effects depend on the size of the hydrocarbon molecules and where on or in the body they are applied. Alkanes of low molar mass—those with from 1 to approximately 10 or so carbon atoms—are gases or light liquids that act as anesthetics.
    • 4.11: Functional groups and organic nomenclature
      Functional groups are structural units within organic compounds that are defined by specific bonding arrangements between specific atoms. The structure of capsaicin, the compound discussed in the beginning of this chapter, incorporates several functional groups, labeled in the figure below and explained throughout this section.
    • 4.12: Prelude to Conformations and Stereochemistry
      In 1848, a 25 year old chemist named Louis Pasteur made a startling - and some thought brash - claim to the scientific community. Pasteur was inexperienced, to say the least: he had only earned his doctorate the previous year, and had just started his first job as an assistant to a professor at the Ecole normale superieure, a university in Paris.
    • 4.13: Conformations of open-chain organic molecules
      Before we begin our exploration of stereochemistry and chirality, we first need to consider the subject of conformational isomerism, which has to do with rotation about single bonds.
    • 4.14: Conformations of cyclic organic molecules
      Browse through a biochemistry textbook and you will see any number of molecules with cyclic structures. Many of these cyclic structures are aromatic, and therefore planar. Many others, though, are composed of sp3-hybridized atoms, and it is these cyclic structures that are the topic of discussion in this section.
    • 4.15: Chirality and stereoisomers
      We turn now to concept of chirality that formed the basis of the story about Louis Pasteur in the beginning of this chapter. Recall that the term chiral, from the Greek work for 'hand', refers to anything which cannot be superimposed on its own mirror image.
    • 4.16: Stereochemistry of alkenes
      When we talk about stereochemistry, we are not always talking about chiral compounds and chiral centers. Consider cis- and trans-2-butene.
    • 4.17: Stereochemistry in biology and medicine
      While challenging to understand and visualize, the stereochemistry concepts we have explored in this chapter are integral to the study of living things. The vast majority of biological molecules contain chiral centers and/or stereogenic alkene groups.
    • 4.18: Solutions to Chapter 3 exercises

    4: Organic Chemistry - Alkanes & Halogenated Hydrocarbons is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by LibreTexts.