Ethyl alcohol Dimethyl ether
As we can see above, ethyl alcohol and dimethyl ether have different structural formula. But their molecular formula is same which is C2H6O. These types of compounds have not only different structural formulas but shows distinct properties as well. Thus, we can say a molecular formula can represent more than one compound. This phenomenon is known as isomerism. The word isomerism is made up of two words iso & meros, iso means same and meros means parts. So, word isomerism means same parts. Ethyl alcohol and dimethyl ether are called isomers of each other.
“Compounds that are represented by the same molecular formulae, but different structural formulae are called isomers and this phenomenon is known as isomerism.”
Isomers not only show different structural formula but different physical and chemical properties as well.
1. Ethyl alcohol and dimethyl ether are isomers of each other as both the compounds have the same molecular formula – C2H6O while different structural formulae.
2. Compounds such as pentane, iso-pentane and neopentane are isomers of each other. These all three compounds have the same molecular formula- C5H12. But different structural formulae.
Isomerism can be divided into mainly two types- Structural isomerism & Stereoisomerism. These can be further subdivided into different subtypes, which is illustrated in the diagram above.
Structural Isomerism - Compounds which show isomerism due to difference in their structures are known as structural isomers. This phenomenon is known as structural isomerism.
Examples of structural isomers – n-Butane and isobutane.
n-butane and isobutane have the same molecular formula- C4H10 but different structural formulae.
1. Chain isomerism
2. Functional isomerism
3. positional isomerism
4. Metamerism isomerism
5. Tautomerism isomerism
6. Ring-chain isomerism
1.Chain isomerism – Those structural isomers which differ in chain of carbon atoms are known as chain isomers and the phenomenon is termed as chain isomerism. Thus, chain isomers differ in the arrangement of C-atoms in straight or branched chain of compounds.
Examples of chain isomers – Hexane – C6H14
2,3- dimethyl butane
Important note – To show chain isomerism, organic compound or carbon compound should have minimum ‘4’ carbon atoms.
2.Functional Isomerism – Those compounds which have same molecular formula, but different functional groups are called functional isomers and this phenomenon is known as functional isomerism or functional group isomerism.
Example – Alcohol and ethers
Ethanol (functional group-OH) and dimethyl ether(functional group- R-O-R’)- Molecular formula – C2H6O
Structural formula of ethanol – Structural formula of dimethyl ether-
3.Positional isomerism – Those structural isomers which differ in position of substituents or functional group or multiple bonds, are known as positional isomers and this phenomenon is known as positional isomerism.
Positional isomerism example –
1. But-2-ene & But-1-ene (differ in position of double bond)
2. 1-butanol & 2-butanol (differ in position of functional group -OH)
3. 1-chlorobutane & 2-chlorobutane (differ in position of substituent group -Cl)
Methyl propyl ether [one side alkyl group-methyl(CH3) is attached while on another side alkyl group- propyl(C3H7) is attached]
To show tautomerism, compounds must contain highly electronegative elements with multiple bonds.
Example – Keto-enol tautomerism in acetone
Acetone (in keto form) Acetone(in enol form)
1. Geometrical isomerism – It is also known as Cis-Trans isomerism. Those stereoisomers in which isomerism arises due to restricted rotation of carbon-carbon double bond are known as geometrical isomers and this phenomenon is known as geometrical isomerism. In cis-trans isomerism it should be noted that the groups attached to the double bonded carbon atom should be different.
Conditions for optical isomerism – 1. In optical isomers carbon atoms are attached to four different atoms or groups.
2. Chiral center – Optical isomers have chiral centers, it means a carbon atom which is attached to the 4 different groups or atoms.
3. Optical isomer which rotates plane polarized light towards right side is called dextro (d) while the optical isomer which rotates towards left side is called laevo(l). A mixture containing equal amounts of dextro & laevo isomers is called racemic mixture. Racemic mixtures show no effect on plane polarized light as rotations of d & l cancel out each other.
Optical Isomers example or Example of d & l isomers
Those optical isomers which are mirror images of each other are called enantiomers. While which are non-mirror images of each other are called diastereomers.