Wöhler synthesis

What is Wöhler synthesis?

The Wöhler synthesis is a chemical reaction that involves the conversion of ammonium cyanate [NH4][OCN] into urea CO(NH2)2. This synthesis is particularly notable as it marked the first time that an organic compound was produced from an inorganic material. The reaction is named after Friedrich Wöhler, a prominent German chemist (1800-1882), who first described it in 1828.

Wohler sythesis - general reaction scheme - Wöhler synthesis
Wöhler synthesis

The Wöhler synthesis is a significant landmark in the history of chemistry, as it helped to debunk the notion that organic compounds could only be produced by living organisms. Instead, it demonstrated that organic molecules could be synthesized from inorganic materials using simple chemical reactions. This discovery paved the way for the development of modern organic chemistry, and has led to countless advances in science and technology over the past two centuries.