During the first half of the nineteenth century, scientists realized that organic compounds can be synthesized in the laboratory.Around 1816 Michel Chevreul started a study of soaps made from various fats and alkalis. He separated the different acids that, in combination with the alkali, produced the soap. Since these were allindividual compounds, he demonstrated that it was possible to make a chemical change in various fats (which traditionally come from organic sources), producing new compounds, without "vital force".The history of organic chemistry continued with the discovery of petroleum and its separation into fractions according to boiling ranges. The conversion of different compound types or individualcompounds by various chemical processes created the petroleum chemistry leading to the birth of the petrochemical industry, which successfully manufactured artificial rubbers, the various organicadhesives, the property-modifying petroleum additives, and plastics.
Organic compounds were traditionally characterized by a variety of chemical tests, called "wet methods", but suchtests have been largely displaced by spectroscopic or other computer-intensive methods of analysis. Listed in approximate order of utility, the chief analytical methods are:
§ Nuclear magneticresonance (NMR) spectroscopy
§ Elemental analysis
§ Mass spectrometry
Traditional spectroscopic methods such as infrared spectroscopy, optical rotation, UV/VIS spectroscopy providerelatively nonspecific structural information but remain in use for specific classes of compounds.
Physical properties of organic compounds typically of interest include both...