How Does Catenation Contribute to the Diversity of Organic Compounds?
Catenation is the ability of carbon to form long chains. In fact, carbon atoms are unique because of catenation—they are unique among all of the other atoms found in nature. Now, carbon chains are formed because they form bonds, or tetravalent bonds, with other carbon atoms.
They form tetravalent bonds, which means that 1 carbon atom forms bonds with 4 other carbon atoms. Now, this structure can be repeated endlessly without disturbing the stability of the bonds or the compounds formed, so they have a repeatable structure.
In fact, chains can form branches, which can form sub-branches, which form rings, and more rings. Now carbon compounds can be split into 2 groups with the first being open-chain compounds, or aliphatic compounds. These are organic compounds that form carbon-carbon chains such as alkanes, alkenes, and alkynes.
They are formed in animal or vegetable fats and do not have a strong aroma. Now, the second group is closed-chain compounds, or cyclic compounds. These are organic compounds that form closed rings such as benzene, vanillin, or phenol.
Now, aromatic compounds are also cyclic compounds that contain a 6-carbon ring with alternating double and single bonds. Now as their name suggests, they do give off a very strong aroma.