Introduction

While organic chemistry is arguably one of the toughest courses it is also one of the coolest and most interesting subjects you will ever take.  In this course, you will learn how to manipulate atoms and molecules on the quantum scale.  You will learn to make molecules (pharmaceuticals, pesticides, dyes etc.)  and materials (plastics and other polymers).  No other course, except in maybe some art classes, will you learn to make things.

I hope you will also learn to see these molecules and materials in a different way as you develop your chemical intuition.  When an organic chemist looks at a molecule he sees it differently than other scientists and some chemists would.  As you begin to explore the fascinating world of organic chemistry always keep in mind that molecular structure controls the physical and chemical properties of a given molecule.  When you look at a molecule ask yourself these questions and in time you will develop your chemical intuition.

  • What structural features are present and how do they relate to the physical properties (i.e. boiling point, melting point, solubility and chromatography).
    • What are the important intermolecular (secondary) forces resulting from these structural features?

  • What structural features are present and how do they relate to the chemical reactivity?
    • Where are all the electrons?  Are they in lone pairs, π bonds or HOMO? 
    • Where aren't the electrons?  Are there empty orbitals or a LUMO?
    • Are there acidic protons or basic lone pair electrons?