Organic and inorganic chemistry

The organic chemistry examines structures and reactions of carbon – based compounds and inorganic chemistry studies the properties of all other elements. In general, chemistry is the study of the composition, structure and properties of substances and the changes that these undergo during chemical reactions.

This initial distinction arises in the middle of the 18th century, when substances from plants and animals were classified as “organic”, while substances derived from stones and other minerals were classified as “inorganic”.

Organic chemistryInorganic chemistry
DefinitionBranch of chemistry that is dedicated to the study of carbon or organic compounds.Branch of chemistry that is dedicated to studying the properties of the elements.
Initial registrationJohns Kabok Berzellius (1807)Johns Kabok Berzellius (1807)
Complexity of compoundsGreater than twelve atoms, carbon always being present.From two to eight atoms.
Types of moleculesProteins, fats, carbohydrates, hydrocarbons, synthetic polymers.Salts and minerals
ApplicationsPetrochemicals, plastics and fibers, pharmaceuticals.Metallurgy, photography, electronics.

What is organic chemistry?

Organic chemistry or carbon chemistry designates the study of compounds of organic origin, that is, those compounds that come from living beings, or those that contain carbon and can be synthesized in the laboratory.

The term “organic chemistry” was used for the first time in 1807 by the chemist John Kabol Berzelius (1779-1848), when referring to compounds from “organisms”.

The chemical symbol of carbon is C . It has the atomic number 6, which means that it has 6 protons in its nucleus surrounded by 6 electrons in the electron cloud. Of these six electrons, four are valence electrons , that is, electrons that can be shared with other elements to form compounds.

Carbon’s ability to form compounds is staggering, being able to combine with a variety of elements, including hydrogen, oxygen, sulfur, halogens, and some metals. It can also combine with other carbons, which can form long chains of strong and stable bonds between carbons, as for example in fatty acids and hydrocarbons.

Examples of organic compounds are in proteins, sugars, acetic acid in vinegar, alcohol, gasoline from petroleum, soaps and many more. It should be noted that carbon dioxide CO 2 and calcium carbonate CaCO 3 , despite being compounds with carbon, are not organic compounds.

Applications of organic chemistry

Since organic compounds exist in massive quantities, organic chemistry is applied in a variety of aspects of society. Some examples below.


The petrochemical company is dedicated to the study of organic products derived from petroleum and their production systems. Petroleum is a fossil fuel that originated from organic matter, and is made up of a variety of hydrocarbons.

Pharmaceutical industry

Drugs are, for the most part, organic compounds with some effect on metabolic pathways of organisms. The development and obtaining of new drugs, the modification of molecules to change or improve their properties and the chemical reactions that occur in drugs are aspects that organic chemistry addresses.


Plastics are made up of high molecular weight organic molecules. Structurally they consist of monomers or short chains, which are joined together to form polymers. Although there is currently a general contempt for plastics, at the time, their appearance was a revolution, since they came to replace wood, glass and paper in many human activities.

You may be interested in knowing more about the branches of chemistry .

What is inorganic chemistry?

Inorganic chemistry represents the branch of chemistry that studies elements that do not have biological origin. In this classification we find the salts, metals and minerals that contain them.

A chemical element is a substance that cannot be subdivided into simpler substances through chemical reactions. Inorganic compounds in this sense are much simpler than organic compounds, counting between two and eight atoms in their composition.

Inorganic Chemistry Applications

Inorganic chemistry is also part of everyday life. Let’s look at a few examples.


Metallurgy includes a wide range of scientific theories and technologies that allow minerals to be extracted from deposits and processed to obtain finished metal, ready for work.

Metals are used in various areas of work: cooking, construction, electricity, tools, among others. One of the characteristics of metals is their ability to give up electrons, which makes them prone to combining with other non-metallic elements, such as oxygen and sulfur.

In order to use metals, they must first be recovered and then transformed for the intended use. Here are alloys such as steel, which is a mixture of iron with a certain amount of carbon, with characteristics of hardness and resistance that make it


Because electronics are primarily based on metals and silicon, inorganic chemistry is applied in the making of microchips and integrated circuits.


With the invention of the STM ( Scanning Tunneling Microscopy ) tunneling microscope , a new field was opened: nanotechnology. Visualizing particles at atomic levels (below 100 nanometers = one millionth of a millimeter) nanotechnology has applications in medicine, materials and the environment.

Diagnosis and therapy

The application of radioisotopes of inorganic elements in nuclear medicine, both for diagnosis and treatment, has been done effectively since the discovery of radioactivity.

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