synthetic routes for organic chemicals


1. Introduction

One of the most important applications of organic chemistry is the synthesis of new compounds. These new compounds have known structures, and properties that can be accurately predicted. The approach is particularly important in the synthesis of drugs, dyes, an aesthetics and pesticides.

Once an active compound has been discovered, a wide range of similar compounds can be synthesized. These are tested to find the most effective compound with the required properties.

For example, one of the earliest pain-killers was 2-hydrobenzoic acid (salicylic acid) (figure 1 below). Unfortunately, this acid irritated the patient’s mouth and stomach. In severe cases, it caused internal bleeding. Between 1850 and 1900, various derivates of salicylic acid were prepared in order to find an equally therapeutic but less toxic form of the drug. In 1899, the German chemist Hofmann synthesized the ethanoyl (acetyl) derivative of salicylic acid. This compound was found to have the beneficial properties of the original drug without causing the same irritation of the mouth and stomach. It is still used today as aspirin (figure one below).

figure 1 the figure of 2-hydrobenzoic acid(salicylic acid) and 2-ethanoyloxybenzoic acid (acetylsalicyclic acid, aspirin)


Starting materials for synthesis

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