Topic 10: Organic chemistry - 10.1 Fundamentals of organic chemistry

Nature of science:

Serendipity and scientific discoveries - PTFE and superglue. 1.4

Ethical implications - drugs, additives and pesticides can have harmful effects on both people and the environment. 4.5


Essential idea: Organic chemistry focuses on the chemistry of compounds containing carbon.

A homologous series is a series of compounds of the same family, with the same general formula, which differ from each other by a common structural unit.

Structural formulas can be represented in full and condensed format.

Structural isomers are compounds with the same molecular formula but different arrangements of atoms

Functional groups are the reactive parts of molecules.

Saturated compounds contain single bonds only and unsaturated compounds contain double or triple bonds.

Benzene is an aromatic, unsaturated hydrocarbon.

Applications and skills

Explanation of the trends in boiling points of members of a homologous series.

Distinction between empirical, molecular and structural formulas.

Identification of different classes: alkanes, alkenes, alkynes, halogenoalkanes, alcohols, ethers, aldehydes, ketones, esters, carboxylic acids, amines, amides,nitriles and arenes.

Identification of typical functional groups in molecules eg phenyl, hydroxyl, carbonyl, carboxyl, carboxamide, aldehyde, ester, ether, amine, nitrile, alkyl, alkenyl and alkynyl.

Construction of 3-D models (real or virtual) of organic molecules.

Application of IUPAC rules in the nomenclature of straight-chain and branchedchain isomers.

Identification of primary, secondary and tertiary carbon atoms in halogenoalkanes and alcohols and primary, secondary and tertiary nitrogen atoms in amines.

Discussion of the structure of benzene using physical and chemical evidence.


Skeletal formulas should be discussed in the course.

The general formulas (eg CnH2n+2) of alkanes, alkenes, alkynes, ketones, alcohols, aldehydes and carboxylic acids should be known.

The distinction between class names and functional group names needs to be made. Eg for OH, hydroxyl is the functional group whereas alcohol is the class name

The following nomenclature should be covered:

- non-cyclic alkanes and halogenoalkanes up to halohexanes.

- alkenes up to hexene and alkynes up to hexyne.

- compounds up to six carbon atoms (in the basic chain for nomenclature purposes) containing only one of the classes of functional groups: alcohols, ethers, aldehydes, halogenoalkanes, ketones, esters and carboxylic acids.