Inorganic compound

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In chemistry, an inorganic compound is typically a chemical compound that lacks carbon–hydrogen bondsthat is, a compound that is not an organic compound. [1] [2] 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. [3]

All allotropes (structurally different pure forms of an element) and some simple carbon compounds are often considered inorganic. Examples include the allotropes of carbon (graphite, diamond, buckminsterfullerene, graphene, etc.), carbon monoxide CO, carbon dioxide CO2, carbides, and salts of inorganic anions such as carbonates, cyanides, cyanates, thiocyanates, isothiocyanates, phosphates, sulphates, chlorates, etc. Many of these are normal parts of mostly organic systems, including organisms; describing a chemical as inorganic does not necessarily mean that it cannot 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. [4] [5] [6] 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

See also

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Amide</span> Organic compounds of the form RC(=O)NR′R″

In organic chemistry, an amide, also known as an organic amide or a carboxamide, is a compound with the general formula R−C(=O)−NR′R″, where R, R', and R″ represent any group, typically organyl 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, as in asparagine and glutamine. It can be viewed as a derivative of a carboxylic acid with the hydroxyl group replaced by an amine group ; or, equivalently, an acyl (alkanoyl) group joined to an amine group.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Hermann Kolbe</span> German chemist (1818–1884)

Adolph Wilhelm Hermann Kolbe was a major contributor to the birth of modern organic chemistry. He was a professor at Marburg and Leipzig. Kolbe was the first to apply the term synthesis in a chemical context, and contributed to the philosophical demise of vitalism through synthesis of the organic substance acetic acid from carbon disulfide, and also contributed to the development of structural theory. This was done via modifications to the idea of "radicals" and accurate prediction of the existence of secondary and tertiary alcohols, and to the emerging array of organic reactions through his Kolbe electrolysis of carboxylate salts, the Kolbe-Schmitt reaction in the preparation of aspirin and the Kolbe nitrile synthesis. After studies with Wöhler and Bunsen, Kolbe was involved with the early internationalization of chemistry through work in London. He was elected to the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, and won the Royal Society of London's Davy Medal in the year of his death. Despite these accomplishments and his training important members of the next generation of chemists, Kolbe is best remembered for editing the Journal für Praktische Chemie for more than a decade, in which his vituperative essays on Kekulé's structure of benzene, van't Hoff's theory on the origin of chirality and Baeyer's reforms of nomenclature were personally critical and linguistically violent. Kolbe died of a heart attack in Leipzig at age 66, six years after the death of his wife, Charlotte. He was survived by four children.

<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 both organic and 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

Some chemical authorities define an organic compound as a chemical compound that contains a carbon–hydrogen or carbon–carbon bond; others consider an organic compound to be any chemical compound that contains carbon. For example, carbon-containing compounds such as alkanes and its derivatives are universally considered organic, but many others are sometimes considered inorganic, such as halides of carbon without carbon-hydrogen and carbon-carbon bonds, and certain compounds of carbon with nitrogen and oxygen.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Organic chemistry</span> Subdiscipline of chemistry, focusing on carbon compounds

Organic chemistry is a subdiscipline within chemistry involving the scientific study of the structure, properties, and reactions of organic compounds and organic materials, i.e., matter in its various forms that contain carbon atoms. 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.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Organometallic chemistry</span> Study of organic compounds containing metal(s)

Organometallic chemistry is the study of organometallic compounds, chemical compounds containing at least one chemical bond between a carbon atom of an organic molecule and a metal, including alkali, alkaline earth, and transition metals, and sometimes broadened to include metalloids like boron, silicon, and selenium, as well. Aside from bonds to organyl fragments or molecules, bonds to 'inorganic' carbon, like carbon monoxide, cyanide, or carbide, are generally considered to be organometallic as well. Some related compounds such as transition metal hydrides and metal phosphine complexes are often included in discussions of organometallic compounds, though strictly speaking, they are not necessarily organometallic. The related but distinct term "metalorganic compound" refers to metal-containing compounds lacking direct metal-carbon bonds but which contain organic ligands. Metal β-diketonates, alkoxides, dialkylamides, and metal phosphine complexes are representative members of this class. The field of organometallic chemistry combines aspects of traditional inorganic and organic chemistry.

Urea, also called carbamide, is an organic compound with chemical formula CO(NH2)2. This amide has two amino groups joined by a carbonyl functional group. It is thus the simplest amide of carbamic acid.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Imine</span> Organic compound or functional group containing a C=N bond

In organic chemistry, an imine is a functional group or organic compound containing a carbon–nitrogen double bond. The nitrogen atom can be attached to a hydrogen or an organic group (R). The carbon atom has two additional single bonds. Imines are common in synthetic and naturally occurring compounds and they participate in many reactions.

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.

An isocyanide is an organic compound with the functional group –N+≡C. It is the isomer of the related nitrile (–C≡N), hence the prefix is isocyano. The organic fragment is connected to the isocyanide group through the nitrogen atom, not via the carbon. They are used as building blocks for the synthesis of other compounds.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Potassium cyanate</span> Chemical compound

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.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Isocyanic acid</span> Chemical compound (H–N=C=O)

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 and an isomer of cyanic acid (aka. cyanol).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mercury(II) thiocyanate</span> 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 polymer chemistry, an inorganic polymer is a polymer with a skeletal structure that does not include carbon atoms in the backbone. Polymers containing inorganic and organic components are sometimes called hybrid polymers, and most so-called inorganic polymers are hybrid polymers. One of the best known examples is polydimethylsiloxane, otherwise known commonly as silicone rubber. Inorganic polymers offer some properties not found in organic materials including low-temperature flexibility, electrical conductivity, and nonflammability. The term inorganic polymer refers generally to one-dimensional polymers, rather than to heavily crosslinked materials such as silicate minerals. Inorganic polymers with tunable or responsive properties are sometimes called smart inorganic polymers. A special class of inorganic polymers are geopolymers, which may be anthropogenic or naturally occurring.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tetrakis(hydroxymethyl)phosphonium chloride</span> Chemical compound

Tetrakis(hydroxymethyl)phosphonium chloride (THPC) is an organophosphorus compound with the chemical formula [P(CH2OH)4]Cl. The cation P(CH2OH)4+ is four-coordinate, as is typical for phosphonium salts. THPC has applications as a precursor to fire-retardant materials, as well as a microbiocide in commercial and industrial water systems.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Isomer</span> Chemical compounds with the same molecular formula but different atomic arrangements

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

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Jöns Jacob Berzelius</span> Swedish chemist (1779–1848)

Baron Jöns Jacob Berzelius (Swedish:[jœnsˈjɑ̌ːkɔbbæˈʂěːlɪɵs] 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". During his lifetime he did not customarily use his first given name, and was universally known simply as Jacob Berzelius.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ammonium cyanate</span> Ionic chemical compound with formula [NH4]+ [OCN]-

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


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  2. 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:
  3. 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.
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  5. 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.
  6. 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.
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