Lecture on Biomolecules

Lecture on Biomolecules - Polymers and Biopolymers In the...

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Polymers and Biopolymers In the previous lecture we learned that by using carbon as the primary backbone, we can create a seemingly endless array of molecules built on covelent bonds to carbon. The simple concepts we learned at the beginning of the year about bonding—like structures being formed based on the number of valence electrons and the stability of filled shells, make it possible to rationalize why different structures are possible. We can even rationalize the reactivity that occurs by applying simple concepts like electronegativity or more sophisticated concepts in thermodynamics. What should be most impressive is just how many different kinds of even relatively small molecules (molecular weights of a few hundred) we can build using carbon backbones and attaching all manner of functional groups. In fact most of the compounds we take for granted in our daily lives, like vitamins, and medications, and molecules that make it possible to see color or to smell or to taste, are built on even the smallest variations in organic molecules. A few examples of theses are shown below, not because you are expected to learned them, but more just to say, wow, this might actually be pretty interesting and make learning organic worthwhile.
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Estrogen Vitamin C brilliant blue food coloring Polymers Now these small organic molecules are amazing given the their complexity and diversity of function, but they are not really what is really important about organic molecules. Actually it is the ability of small organic molecules to polymerize that makes life really interesting (and possible.) The rest of this lecture describes this process by which small organic molecule units are able to form molecules that have molecular weights of millions and larger. We will first look at the polymers built on very simple organic molecules that are responsible for the many products we use in our daily lives—like rubber or Plexiglass or Teflon. We will then look at biopolymers which are as they say, “the building blocks of life.” What I will want you to take away from this survey is a general appreciation for how these polymers are formed, and for the ones I lay out for you in the notes or the worksheets, the ability to identify what monomeric units are responsible for forming a specific polymer. Addition Polymers. We have learned that there are certain general classes of organic chemical reactions: substitutions, additions and eliminations. You can imagine that these can occur in such a way that a one or more small organic molecules can react to produce molecules of ever increasing size. For example, the polymerization of ethane to form polyethylene.
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Another famous example, that is done as a demo just about everywhere, including this class, is the production of nylon from adipic acid and hexamethylene diamine.
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Lecture on Biomolecules - Polymers and Biopolymers In the...

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