Beginning Organic Chemistry (BOC)
1. Basic Knowledge
a. Atoms important in organic chemistry

Return to BOC Index.

Organic chemistry is the chemistry of the compounds of carbon (with some exceptions, such as CO, CO2, and the carbonates). The following periodic table shows the position of carbon and the most important elements found in organic compounds.

IUPAC Group Number
1234 56789 1011121314 15161718
Li B C N O F
[Na] Mg [Al] P S Cl
[Ni] Cu [Zn] Br
[Pd] I
[Pt] Hg
12 234 321
Usual Combining Power (or Valence).

The carbon atom has six electrons, of which four are available for bonding. To reach electronic stability, carbon atoms must share four electrons from other atoms. (The gaining or losing of four electrons requires too much energy in such a small atom.) Carbon, therefore, forms four (two-electron) bonds to other atoms, which may be single (one shared pair), double (two shared pairs) or triple (three shared pairs).

Many important organic molecules are made up from the few elements shown with yellow backgrounds in the above periodic table. Note the position of these atoms relative to carbon and their combining power (valence).

Date created: 2005 06 07.