Inorganic compound

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In chemistry, an inorganic compound is typically a chemical compound that lacks carbon–hydrogen bonds, that is, a compound that is not an organic compound. However, the distinction is not clearly defined; authorities have differing views on the subject. [1] [2] [3] The study of inorganic compounds is a subfield of chemistry known as inorganic chemistry .


Inorganic compounds comprise most of the Earth's crust, although the compositions of the deep mantle remain active areas of investigation. [4]

Some simple compounds that contain carbon are often considered inorganic. Examples include carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, carbides, and the following salts of inorganic anions: carbonates, cyanides, cyanates, and thiocyanates. Many of these are normal parts of mostly organic systems, including organisms; describing a chemical as inorganic does not necessarily mean that it does not occur within living things.


Friedrich Wöhler's conversion of ammonium cyanate into urea in 1828 is often cited as the starting point of modern organic chemistry. [5] [6] [7] In Wöhler's era, there was widespread belief that organic compounds were characterized by a vital spirit. In the absence of vitalism, the distinction between inorganic and organic chemistry is merely semantic.

Modern usage

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In organic chemistry, an amide, also known as an organic amide or a carboxamide, is a compound with the general formula RC(=O)NR′R″, where R, R', and R″ represent organic groups or hydrogen atoms. The amide group is called a peptide bond when it is part of the main chain of a protein, and an isopeptide bond when it occurs in a side chain, such as in the amino acids asparagine and glutamine. It can be viewed as a derivative of a carboxylic acid RC(=O)OH with the hydroxyl group –OH replaced by an amine group −NR′R″; or, equivalently, an acyl (alkanoyl) group RC(=O)− joined to an amine group.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Friedrich Wöhler</span> German chemist (1800–1882)

Friedrich Wöhler FRS(For) HonFRSE was a German chemist, known for his work in inorganic chemistry, being the first to isolate the chemical elements beryllium and yttrium in pure metallic form. He was the first to prepare several inorganic compounds including silane and silicon nitride.

Carbon compounds are defined as chemical substances containing carbon. More compounds of carbon exist than any other chemical element except for hydrogen. Organic carbon compounds are far more numerous than inorganic carbon compounds. In general bonds of carbon with other elements are covalent bonds. Carbon is tetravalent but carbon free radicals and carbenes occur as short-lived intermediates. Ions of carbon are carbocations and carbanions are also short-lived. An important carbon property is catenation as the ability to form long carbon chains and rings.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Organic compound</span> Chemical compound with carbon-hydrogen bonds

In chemistry, organic compounds are generally any chemical compounds that contain carbon-hydrogen or carbon-carbon bonds. Due to carbon's ability to catenate, millions of organic compounds are known. The study of the properties, reactions, and syntheses of organic compounds comprise the discipline known as organic chemistry. For historical reasons, a few classes of carbon-containing compounds, along with a few other exceptions, are not classified as organic compounds and are considered inorganic. Other than those just named, little consensus exists among chemists on precisely which carbon-containing compounds are excluded, making any rigorous definition of an organic compound elusive.

Organic chemistry Subdiscipline of chemistry, with especial focus on carbon compounds

Organic chemistry is a branch of chemistry that studies the structure, properties and reactions of organic compounds, which contain carbon-carbon covalent bonds. Study of structure determines their structural formula. Study of properties includes physical and chemical properties, and evaluation of chemical reactivity to understand their behavior. The study of organic reactions includes the chemical synthesis of natural products, drugs, and polymers, and study of individual organic molecules in the laboratory and via theoretical study.

Urea, also known as carbamide, is an organic compound with chemical formula CO(NH2)2. This amide has two NH2 groups joined by a carbonyl (C=O) functional group.

Cyanogen is the chemical compound with the formula (CN)2. It is a colorless and highly toxic gas with a pungent odor. The molecule is a pseudohalogen. Cyanogen molecules consist of two CN groups – analogous to diatomic halogen molecules, such as Cl2, but far less oxidizing. The two cyano groups are bonded together at their carbon atoms: N≡C‒C≡N, although other isomers have been detected. The name is also used for the CN radical, and hence is used for compounds such as cyanogen bromide (NCBr) (but see also Cyano radical.)

Total synthesis is the complete chemical synthesis of a complex molecule, often a natural product, from simple, commercially-available precursors. It usually refers to a process not involving the aid of biological processes, which distinguishes it from semisynthesis. Syntheses may sometimes conclude at a precursor with further known synthetic pathways to a target molecule, in which case it is known as a formal synthesis. Total synthesis target molecules can be natural products, medicinally-important active ingredients, known intermediates, or molecules of theoretical interest. Total synthesis targets can also be organometallic or inorganic, though these are rarely encountered. Total synthesis projects often require a wide diversity of reactions and reagents, and subsequently requires broad chemical knowledge and training to be successful.

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A superbase is a compound that has a particularly high affinity for protons. Superbases are of theoretical interest and potentially valuable in organic synthesis. Superbases have been described and used since the 1850s.

Potassium cyanate is an inorganic compound with the formula KOCN. It is a colourless solid. It is used to prepare many other compounds including useful herbicide. Worldwide production of the potassium and sodium salts was 20,000 tons in 2006.

The Wöhler synthesis is the conversion of ammonium cyanate into urea. This chemical reaction was described in 1828 by Friedrich Wöhler. It is often cited as the starting point of modern organic chemistry. Although the Wöhler reaction concerns the conversion of ammonium cyanate, this salt appears only as an (unstable) intermediate. Wöhler demonstrated the reaction in his original publication with different sets of reactants: a combination of cyanic acid and ammonia, a combination of silver cyanate and ammonium chloride, a combination of lead cyanate and ammonia and finally from a combination of mercury cyanate and cyanatic ammonia.

Isocyanic acid Chemical compound of structural formula HNCO

Isocyanic acid is a chemical compound with the structural formula HNCO, which is often written as H–N=C=O. It is a colourless, volatile and poisonous substance, with a boiling point of 23.5 °C. It is the predominant tautomer of cyanic acid H–O–C≡N.

A chemical nomenclature is a set of rules to generate systematic names for chemical compounds. The nomenclature used most frequently worldwide is the one created and developed by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC).

Mercury(II) thiocyanate Chemical compound

Mercury(II) thiocyanate (Hg(SCN)2) is an inorganic chemical compound, the coordination complex of Hg2+ and the thiocyanate anion. It is a white powder. It will produce a large, winding "snake" when ignited, an effect known as the Pharaoh's serpent.

In chemical nomenclature, a preferred IUPAC name (PIN) is a unique name, assigned to a chemical substance and preferred among the possible names generated by IUPAC nomenclature. The "preferred IUPAC nomenclature" provides a set of rules for choosing between multiple possibilities in situations where it is important to decide on a unique name. It is intended for use in legal and regulatory situations.

Isomer Chemical compounds with the same molecular formula but different atomic arrangements

In chemistry, isomers are molecules or polyatomic ions with identical molecular formulae – that is, same number of atoms of each element – but distinct arrangements of atoms in space. Isomerism is existence or possibility of isomers.

Jöns Jacob Berzelius 19th century Swedish chemist

Baron Jöns Jacob Berzelius was a Swedish chemist. Berzelius is considered, along with Robert Boyle, John Dalton, and Antoine Lavoisier, to be one of the founders of modern chemistry. Berzelius became a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in 1808 and served from 1818 as its principal functionary. He is known in Sweden as the "Father of Swedish Chemistry". Berzelius Day is celebrated on 20 August in honour of him.

Organic mineral Natural compound occurring in mineral form

An organic mineral is an organic compound in mineral form. An organic compound is any compound containing carbon, aside from some simple ones discovered before 1828. There are three classes of organic mineral: hydrocarbons, salts of organic acids, and miscellaneous. Organic minerals are rare, and tend to have specialized settings such as fossilized cacti and bat guano. Mineralogists have used statistical models to predict that there are more undiscovered organic mineral species than known ones.

Ammonium cyanate Chemical compound

Ammoniumcyanate is an inorganic compound with the formula [NH4]+[OCN]. It is a colorless solid.


  1. Some major textbooks on inorganic chemistry decline to define inorganic compounds: Holleman, A. F.; Wiberg, E. Inorganic Chemistry Academic Press: San Francisco, 2001. ISBN   0-12-352651-5; Greenwood, Norman N.; Earnshaw, Alan (1997). Chemistry of the Elements (2nd ed.). Butterworth-Heinemann. ISBN   978-0-08-037941-8., Cotton, F. Albert; Wilkinson, Geoffrey (1988), Advanced Inorganic Chemistry (5th ed.), New York: Wiley-Interscience, ISBN   0-471-84997-9
  2. J. J. Berzelius "Lehrbuch der Chemie," 1st ed., Arnoldischen Buchhandlung, Dresden and Leipzig, 1827. ISBN   1-148-99953-1. Brief English commentary in English can be found in Bent Soren Jorgensen "More on Berzelius and the vital force" J. Chem. Educ., 1965, vol. 42, p 394. doi : 10.1021/ed042p394
  3. Dan Berger, Bluffton College, analysis of varying inappropriate definitions of the inorganic-organic distinction: Otherwise consistent linked material differing from current article in downplaying the carbon present vs carbon absent distinctive:
  4. Newman, D. K.; Banfield, J. F. (2002). "Geomicrobiology: How Molecular-Scale Interactions Underpin Biogeochemical Systems". Science. 296 (5570): 1071–1077. Bibcode:2002Sci...296.1071N. doi:10.1126/science.1010716. PMID   12004119. S2CID   1235688.
  5. May, Paul. "Urea". Molecules in Motion. Imperial College London. Archived from the original on 2015-03-17.
  6. Cohen, Paul S.; Cohen, Stephen M. (1996). "Wöhler's Synthesis of Urea: How do the Textbooks Report It?". Journal of Chemical Education. 73 (9): 883. doi:10.1021/ed073p883.
  7. Ramberg, Peter J. (2000). "The Death of Vitalism and the Birth of Organic Chemistry: Wohler's Urea Synthesis and the Disciplinary Identity of Organic Chemistry". Ambix. 47 (3): 170–195. doi:10.1179/amb.2000.47.3.170. PMID   11640223. S2CID   44613876.
  8. "Inorganic Crystal Structure Database" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2017-08-30. Retrieved 2017-01-13.
  9. "Volumes - Inorganic Syntheses".
  10. IUPAC , Compendium of Chemical Terminology , 2nd ed. (the "Gold Book") (1997). Online corrected version: (2006) " inorganic polymer ". doi : 10.1351/goldbook.IT07515