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Different arrangements of atoms in organic compounds create distinct chemical species.

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Same, Yet Different

How can two molecules have the same formula, yet still be different?

Credit: Jana Sagatova
Source: http://flic.kr/p/8KzsBw
License: CC BY-NC 3.0


Much like we can arrange a set of beads in different ways and still use the same amount of beads, it is possible for molecules to have multiple configurations with the same chemical formula.  Many of these are hydrocarbons--the various molecules with the same chemical formula but different structure are called isomers.

Creative Applications

  1. One example of isomers is isopentanol and pentanol.  What is the difference in chemical structure?
  2. How does this difference in structure affect properties?  (Research the differences in boiling point, melting point, solubility, etc.)
  3. Why do you think this difference occurred? (Hint: It has something to do with the electron configurations)
  4. Isopentanol and pentanol are examples of structural isomers.  There is another type of isomers called stereoisomers.  What are these and are they different from structural isomers?

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  1. [1]^ Credit: Jana Sagatova; Source: http://flic.kr/p/8KzsBw; License: CC BY-NC 3.0

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