Organic chemistry is the study of the structure, properties, composition, reactions, and preparation of carbon-containing compounds, which include not only hydrocarbons but also compounds with any number of other elements, including hydrogen (most compounds contain at least one carbon–hydrogen bond), nitrogen, oxygen, halogens, phosphorus, silicon, and sulfur. This branch of chemistry was originally limited to compounds produced by living organisms but has been broadened to include human-made substances such as plastics. The range of application of organic compounds is enormous and also includes, but is not limited to, pharmaceuticals, petrochemicals, food, explosives, paints, and cosmetics.
Where Is Organic Chemistry Used?
Organic chemistry is a highly creative science in which chemists create new molecules and explore the properties of existing compounds. It is the most popular field of study for ACS chemists and Ph.D. chemists.
Organic compounds are all around us. They are central to the economic growth of the United States in the rubber, plastics, fuel, pharmaceutical, cosmetics, detergent, coatings, dyestuff, and agrichemical industries, to name a few. The very foundations of biochemistry, biotechnology, and medicine are built on organic compounds and their role in life processes. Many modern, high-tech materials are at least partially composed of organic compounds .
Organic chemists spend much of their time creating new compounds and developing better ways of synthesizing previously known compounds.
Which Industries Hire Organic Chemists?
Organic chemists at all levels are generally employed by pharmaceutical, biotech, chemical, consumer product, and petroleum industries. Chemists in industry mainly work in development, while chemists in academia are involved in more basic research. The federal (e.g., Food and Drug Administration, Patent and Trademark Office) state, and local governments also hire organic chemists.
Biotechnology (“biotech” for short) is a field of applied biology that involves using living organisms and bioprocesses to create or modify products for a specific use. The cultivation of plants has been viewed as the earliest example of biotechnology and the precursor to modern genetic engineering and cell and tissue culture technologies. Virtually all biotechnology products are the result of organic chemistry.
Biotechnology is used in in health care, crop production and agriculture, nonfood uses of crops and other products (e.g., biodegradable plastics, vegetable oil, biofuels), and environmental applications.