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In chemistry, chemical synthesis is a purposeful execution of chemical reactions to obtain a product, or several products. This happens by physical and chemical manipulations usually involving one or more reactions. In modern laboratory usage, this tends to imply that the process is reproducible, reliable, and established to work in multiple laboratories.

A chemical synthesis begins by selection of compounds that are known as reagents or reactants. Various reaction types can be applied to these to synthesize the product, or an intermediate product. This requires mixing the compounds in a reaction vessel such as a chemical reactor or a simple round-bottom flask. Many reactions require some form of work-up procedure before the final product is isolated.[1] The amount of product in a chemical synthesis is the reaction yield. Typically, chemical yields are expressed as a weight in grams or as a percentage of the total theoretical quantity of product that could be produced. A side reaction is an unwanted chemical reaction taking place that diminishes the yield of the desired product.

The word synthesis in the present day meaning was first used by the chemist Hermann Kolbe.


Many strategies exist in chemical synthesis that go beyond converting reactant A to reaction product B. In cascade reactions multiple chemical transformations take place within a single reactant, in multi-component reactions up to 11 different reactants form a single reaction product and in a telescopic synthesis one reactant goes through multiple transformations without isolation of intermediates.

Organic synthesis[edit]

Organic synthesis is a special branch of chemical synthesis dealing with the synthesis of organic compounds. In the total synthesis of a complex product it may take multiple steps to synthesize the product of interest, and inordinate amounts of time. Skill in organic synthesis is prized among chemists and the synthesis of exceptionally valuable or difficult compounds has won chemists such as Robert Burns Woodward the Nobel Prize for Chemistry. If a chemical synthesis starts from basic laboratory compounds and yields something new, it is a purely synthetic process. If it starts from a product isolated from plants or animals and then proceeds to new compounds, the synthesis is described as a semisynthetic process.

Other meanings[edit]

The other meaning of chemical synthesis is narrow and restricted to a specific kind of chemical reaction, a direct combination reaction, in which two or more reactants combine to form a single product. The general form of a direct combination reaction is:

A + B → AB

where A and B are elements or compounds, and AB is a compound consisting of A and B. Examples of combination reactions include:

2Na + Cl2 → 2NaCl (formation of table salt)
S + O2SO2 (formation of sulfur dioxide)
4Fe + 3O2 → 2Fe2O3 (iron rusting)
CO2 + H2OH2CO3 (carbon dioxide dissolving and reacting with water to form carbonic acid)

4 special synthesis rules:

metal-oxide + H2O → metal(OH)
non-metal-oxide + H2O → oxi-acid
metal-chloride + O2 → metal-chlorate
metal-oxide + CO2 → metal carbonate (CO3)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Vogel, A.I., Tatchell, A.R., Furnis, B.S., Hannaford, A.J. and P.W.G. Smith. Vogel's Textbook of Practical Organic Chemistry, 5th Edition. Prentice Hall, 1996. ISBN 0-582-46236-3.

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chemical_synthesis — Please support Wikipedia.
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Canadian Manufacturing
Wed, 16 Apr 2014 07:26:15 -0700

Winners include private companies and post-secondary institutions, with work ranging from biofixation to chemical synthesis and fuels. Round two of the Grand Challenge launches in September 2015, where five winners will each receive $3-million in ...
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Christian Science Monitor

Fri, 11 Apr 2014 12:41:15 -0700

Many honor this African American research chemist, who was a pioneer in large-scale chemical synthesis of human hormones from plants, and his foundation for the drug industry's production of Cortisone and birth control pills. Julian had more than 130 ...
Daily Herald
Sat, 12 Apr 2014 07:06:38 -0700

... from the University of Chicago; John Hickey in biomedical engineering from Johns Hopkins University; Matthew Nielsen in chemistry chemical synthesis from Princeton University; and Andrew Westover in engineering materials from Vanderbilt University.

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Tue, 08 Apr 2014 06:06:24 -0700

Biotechnological production offers a cost-effective and environmentally friendly alternative to the chemical synthesis of rare and complex pharmaceutical compounds currently isolated from plants. The results have been achieved in the European SmartCell ...

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