Isomers of Water

A week or so ago I stumbled across an article on the BBC website talking about isomers of water. At first, I thought a mistake had been made and that the article should have used the word 'isotopes'. I was thinking it was something to do with 'heavy water', water that contains the heavier isotope of hydrogen, deuterium. How wrong I was. (There is a lesson here: don't make assumptions!) The article was talking about the nuclei of the hydrogen atoms. We ...

Stereoisomers: Organic Topic 20.3

This is a really interesting part of the HL organic course. Structural isomers are substances with the same molecular formula but a different structural formula. I think we can get our heads around that pretty easily, for example, take botanic acid and ethyl ethanoate – both molecules have the molecular formula C4H8O2 but look and behave (and smell) very differently. However stereoisomers are conceptually much more difficult to understand – this time they have the same molecular formula but the same ...

Optical Isomers

Are your hands identical? To all intents and purposes you would probably reply ‘yes’. But are they? Imagine you were describing your hand to an alien (!) – you would say there are four fingers, one thumb, 5 nails, etc and that you have two of these items. You would probably forget to say that they were mirror images – it’s obvious isn’t it, you see them everyday but you would probably overlook this fact. It would be feasible that ...