100 Nano-Stories: How Do We Name Alkanes?

Episode# 28: Organic Chemistry For Aerogels Explained!

Carlos Manuel Jarquín Sánchez
4 min readFeb 14, 2021

Preface! → ✨

It’s your favorite material science & nanotechnology enthusiast reporting back for another article! In the last article, I attended a conference on advanced materials where CEOs, researchers, and others talked about enhancing the development of Advanced Materials! If you’re interested, check out my reflections and notes below!

But today, let’s discuss some organic chemistry that we will certainly need to know to discuss aerogels!

Are you serious, Carlos? But chemistry is so weird!

Don’t worry, reader! I’m not like your everyday chemistry teacher, so I’ll make sure to keep it informative & simple!

All right, bet!

Naming Of Alkanes Explained! 😤

Fundamental Concepts! 🔑

An alkane is an organic compound that is only made out of carbon & hydrogen atoms.

Alkanes can be divided into 3 functional groups:

  • Straight-Chain Alkanes
  • Branched Alkanes
  • Cycloalkanes

However, I will only talk about how to name Straight-Chain Alkanes for today, but I will come back to this in another article!

But the most important part of being able to name alkanes is the general formula:


Meme by MEME!

Let me explain all of this to you, reader!

Solving Methane! 🔑

  • The “C” stands for Carbon.
  • The “H” stands for Hydorgen.
  • The “n” stands for the number of carbon atoms in the organic compound.

To demonstrate, let’s use the organic compound methane. Methane has 1 carbon atom and 4 hydrogen atoms.

But what does this have to do with naming alkanes, Carlos?

If you notice, Carbon only has 1 carbon atom. So we can add the number “1” wherever we see the letter “n” in the general formula: C(n)H(2n)+2

So does this mean we end up with CH4?

That’s it, reader! You found out how to know the name of methane! But before we leave, let’s try something a smidge more complicated!

The Final Boss! 🔑

Hey, that’s methane on the chart! But what does this have to do with anything, Carlos?

Remember the general formula: C(n)H(2n)+2, reader? The number of carbon atoms in an organic compound shown on this table determines the number of “n”.

So if the number of Carbon Atoms in an organic compound is 2, the hydrogen atoms are 6 (because 2(2) +2 = 6). This organic compound/molecule is also known as ethane.

And if the number of Carbon Atoms in an organic compound is 7, the hydrogen atoms are 16 (because 7(2) + 2 = 16.) This organic compound/molecule is also known as heptane.

Closing Thoughts! → 💭

And there we have it, reader! We just learned about how to find out the number of carbon atoms & hydrogen atoms in an organic compound without having to Google any of this sh*t up!

Oooh, Carlos said a bad word! 🤭

GIF by Tenor!

Anyways, see you tomorrow for another lesson on alkanes & organic chemistry! Until tomorrow, material science & nanotechnology enthusiasts! ✌🏽

Vocabulary! → 📓

Alkane → An organic compound that is only made out of carbon & hydrogen atoms, only single covalent bonds.

Covalent Bonds → A chemical bond that involves the sharing of electron pairs between atoms.

C → Carbon Atom.

H → Hydrogen Atom.

Molecular Formula → C(n)H(2n)+2, is used to find the name & number of an organic compound in an alkane.

Straight-Chain Alkane → The Carbon Atoms that connect the entire organic compound are connected with a continuous chain only without any “branches” (curved lines or crossed lines, etc.)

Branched Alkane → Contain only Carbon Atoms & Hydrogen Atoms, but the molecules contain organic compounds such as methyl & ethyl.

Cycloalkane → The Carbon Atoms are connected in the form of a ring, and the carbon bonds are single-bonded to other atoms.

Single-Bond → There is only two electrons (or one pair) being shared between two atoms.

Connect →🔗



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