Organic chemistry includes the study of isomers. Cumulatively, these molecules have the same amount of atoms as each element, but the atoms are arranged differently inside the molecule. Here is a bit of information about different types of isomerism to help you better understand it.
Why does isomerism matter?
Since the atoms are arranged differently within the molecule, isomers of a single molecule can differ dramatically in their chemical and physical properties. As a result, these differences can change the way that substances containing these molecules may respond. For instance, some spices contain the same molecules, but they differ completely in fragrance because of the isometric differences.
Likewise, some medications may contain particular isomers that must remain stable even after ingestion. Thus, drug testing is important. If a substance transforms into other substances during digestion, the new substances could prove harmful, while the initial drug was deemed safe. As a result, organic chemistry experiments that test the reactions of an isomer under various conditions are important.
What are some common types of Isomerism?
There are two common types of isomerism: constitutional isomerism and stereoisomerism.
Constitutional isomers, which are also called structural isomers, describe the structural rearrangement of the atoms within the molecule. Generally speaking, the more carbons that a molecule contains, the more constitutional isomers it can have.
Under the category of constitutional isomers, there are multiple subcategories:
- Positional isomers are formed by the moving of the reactive or functioning part of the molecule.
- Chain isomers have different carbon arrangements for the same molecule.
- Functional group isomers occur when the atoms within the molecule bond in different ways, altering the type of reactive group within the molecular structure.
Stereoisomers involve the spatial arrangement of the molecule rather than structural rearrangements. They can also be divided into subgroups:
- Optimal isomers affect plane-polarized light. The atoms in the molecule are grouped around a central carbon in a manner that prevents them from rotating to bring about alignment. As a result, one isomer becomes a mirror image of the other optimal isomer.
- Geometric isomers are usually associated with carbon-to-carbon bonding. Because they involve double bonds, they cannot be rotated in the manner that a single bond can. The atoms attached to each carbon involved in the bond can be positioned in differing ways to change the molecule.
To learn more about isomerism and how it affects organic chemistry reactions, consult with a tutor in your area.