Isomers are molecules that have the same chemical formula but different arrangements of the atoms. (The prefix iso- , meaning "same," is encountered in many biological terms.) Of the different kinds of isomers, we will consider two: structural isomers and optical isomers.
Structural isomers differ in how their atoms are joined together. Consider two simple molecules, each composed of 4 carbon and 10 hydrogen atoms bonded covalently, both with the formula C4H10. These atoms can be linked in two different ways, resulting in two forms of the molecule:
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