MCAT Organic Chemistry Review

Bonding

Introduction

Now that we have an understanding of nomenclature and how compounds are related, we are ready to start examining the real backbone of chemical bonding. Bonding determines how atoms come together to form molecules. It also governs the ways those molecules interact with the other molecules in their environment.

Organic chemistry is the study of carbon and carbon-containing compounds. What makes carbon so special? The simple answer is that carbon has unique bonding properties. Carbon is tetravalent, which means that it can form bonds with up to four other atoms, allowing for the massive versatility required to form the foundation of biomolecules and life itself. This versatility is compounded by the fact that carbon, located near the center of the Periodic Table, can form bonds with many different elements because of its moderate electronegativity. In addition, because carbon atoms are fairly small, the bonds that they form are strong and stable.

Remember that there are two types of chemical bonds. The first is ionic, in which electrons are transferred from one atom to another and the resulting ions are held together by electrostatic interactions; the second is covalent, in which electrons are shared between atoms. Organic chemistry is deeply rooted in covalent bonding.