Stereochemical and Conformational Isomerism

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Chapter: Organic Chemistry : Stereochemical and Conformational Isomerism

The functional groups present in a molecule provide a focal point for chemical transformations of the molecule and define the types of reactions that will normally take place.


STEREOCHEMICAL AND CONFORMATIONAL ISOMERISM

The functional groups present in a molecule provide a focal point for chemical transformations of the molecule and define the types of reactions that will normally take place. The functional groups also affect the types and strengths of intermolecular interactions in which a molecule engages. Thus functional groups are important determinants of both the chemical and physical properties of molecules. In addition to the functional groups present in a molecule, the structure of a molecule can also influence its chemical and physical properties significantly.

The term stereochemistry refers to the spatial arrangement of atoms and groups in a molecule. Organic molecules are, for the most part, three-dimensional objects. The shapes of molecules are the result of the hybridization and bonding geometries of the atomic constituents of the molecule. Since carbon atoms normally define the backbone of the molecule, they play a major role in defining the ultimate shape the molecule takes. Thus familiarity with the principles of hybridization and bonding is indispensable in developing an understanding of the stereochemistry of organic molecules.

Because the shape of a molecule can be crucial to its function and properties, the stereochemical outcome of a chemical reaction may be just as important as the chemical outcome. Therefore we must also learn how to deal with stere-ochemical issues in molecules and how to understand the stereochemistry of chemical processes.

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