History Of Chemistry

Before the nineteenth century, chemists generally believed that compounds obtained from living organisms were endowed with a vital force that distinguished them from inorganic compounds. According to the concept of vitalism (vital force theory), organic matter was endowed with a "vital force".[5] During the first half of the nineteenth century, some of the first systematic studies of organic compounds were reported. Around 1816 Michel Chevreul started a study of soaps made from various fats and alkalis. He separated the different acids that, in combination with the alkali, produced the soap. Since these were all individual compounds, he demonstrated that it was possible to make a chemical change in various fats (which traditionally come from organic sources), producing new compounds, without "vital force". In 1828 Friedrich Wöhler produced the organic chemical urea (carbamide), a constituent of urine, from the inorganic ammonium cyanate NH4CNO, in what is now called the Wöhler synthesis. Although Wöhler was always cautious about claiming that he had disproved the theory of vital force, this event has often been thought of as a turning point.[5]

In 1856 William Henry Perkin, while trying to manufacture quinine, accidentally manufactured the organic dye now known as Perkin's mauve. Through its great financial success, this discovery greatly increased interest in organic chemistry.[6]

The crucial breakthrough for organic chemistry was the concept of chemical structure, developed independently and simultaneously by Friedrich August Kekulé and Archibald Scott Couper in 1858.[7] Both men suggested that tetravalent carbon atoms could link to each other to form a carbon lattice, and that the detailed patterns of atomic bonding could be discerned by skillful interpretations of appropriate chemical reactions.

The pharmaceutical industry began in the last decade of the 19th century when the manufacturing of acetylsalicylic acid (more commonly referred to as aspirin) in Germany was started by Bayer.[8] The first time a drug was systematically improved was with arsphenamine (Salvarsan). Though numerous derivatives of the dangerous toxic atoxyl were examined by Paul Ehrlich and his group, the compound with best effectiveness and toxicity characteristics was selected for production.[citation needed]
An example of an organometallic molecule, a catalyst called Grubbs' catalyst, as a ball-and-stick model based on an X-ray crystal structure.[9] The formula of the catalyst is often given as RuCl2(PCy3)2(=CHPh), where the ruthenium metal atom, Ru, is at very center in turquoise, carbons are in black, hydrogens in gray-white, chlorine in green, and phosphorus in orange. The metal ligand at the bottom is a tricyclohexyl phosphine, abbreviated PCy, and another of these appears at the top of the image (where its rings are obscuring one another). The group projecting out to the right has a metal-carbon double bond, as is known as an alkylidene. Robert Grubbs shared the 2005 Nobel prize in chemistry with Richard R. Schrock and Yves Chauvin for their work on the reactions such catalysts mediate, called olefin metathesis.

Early examples of organic reactions and applications were often serendipitous. The latter half of the 19th century however witnessed systematic studies of organic compounds, Illustrative is the development of synthetic indigo. The production of indigo from plant sources dropped from 19,000 tons in 1897 to 1,000 tons by 1914 thanks to the synthetic methods developed by Adolf von Baeyer. In 2002, 17,000 tons of synthetic indigo were produced from petrochemicals.[10]

In the early part of the 20th Century, polymers and enzymes were shown to be large organic molecules, and petroleum was shown to be of biological origin.

The multistep synthesis of complex organic compounds is called total synthesis. Total synthesis of complex natural compounds increased in complexity to glucose and terpineol. For example, cholesterol-related compounds have opened ways to synthesize complex human hormones and their modified derivatives. Since the start of the 20th century, complexity of total syntheses has been increased to include molecules of high complexity such as lysergic acid and vitamin B12.[11]
The total synthesis of vitamin B12 marked a major achievement in organic chemistry.

The development of organic chemistry benefited from the discovery of petroleum and the development of the petrochemical industry. The conversion of individual compounds obtained from petroleum into different compound types by various chemical processes led to the birth of the petrochemical industry, which successfully manufactured artificial rubbers, various organic adhesives, property-modifying petroleum additives, and plastics.

The majority of chemical compounds occurring in biological organisms are in fact carbon compounds, so the association between organic chemistry and biochemistry is so close that biochemistry might be regarded as in essence a branch of organic chemistry. Although the history of biochemistry might be taken to span some four centuries, fundamental understanding of the field only began to develop in the late 19th century and the actual term biochemistry was coined around the start of 20th century. Research in the field increased throughout the twentieth century, without any indication of slackening in the rate of increase, as may be verified by inspection of abstraction and indexing services such as BIOSIS Previews and Biological Abstracts, which began in the 1920s as a single annual volume, but has grown so drastically that by the end of the 20th century it was only available to the everyday user as an online electronic database