Catching radical molecules before they disappear

December 13, 2017, Institute for Basic Science
Crystal structure of two of the four radical cations synthesized in the study. The core (oxime) is stabilized with a ring-shaped structure (NHC), and the rest of the molecule shows the ease of expansion. The molecular structure was confirmed by single crystal X-ray diffraction experiments. Credit: Institute for Basic Science

While in most molecules, each electron finds a partner to pair up with, some electrons in radical molecules are left alone and unpaired. This configuration grants radicals with some unusual and interesting properties, which disappear as soon as the radicals react or interact with other molecules. It has been difficult to generate relatively stable radicals, because they react and change in the blink of an eye, but researchers from the Center for Self-Assembly and Complexity, within the Institute for Basic Science (IBS, South Korea) succeeded in synthesizing four new kinds of stabilized radicals.

Unlike other molecules, some radicals have aligned spins, which confers them ferromagnetic properties, meaning that they can be attracted by a magnetic field. Due to these peculiar properties, radicals are likely to find applications in various fields, such as , molecular spintronics, and molecular magnetism.

IBS scientists developed a strategy to stabilize oxime radicals, using N-heterocyclic carbenes (NHCs), as the latter can share their electrons to stabilize the unpaired electrons of the radicals. This result is particularly interesting as organic radicals are known to be very difficult to synthesize because they are more unstable than metal-containing radicals.

The structures were confirmed by single crystal X-ray diffraction analysis at Pohang Accelerator Laboratory and their properties were verified by . The experimental results agreed well with the .

The same research group has also recently stabilized triazenyl radicals and used them as cathode materials for rechargeable lithium ion batteries. In the future, the researchers are taking up the challenge of producing more radical chemicals that have yet to be synthesized.

Explore further: The simplistic beauty of a free radical

More information: Youngsuk Kim et al. Oxime Ether Radical Cations Stabilized by N-Heterocyclic Carbenes, Angewandte Chemie International Edition (2017). DOI: 10.1002/anie.201710530

Related Stories

The simplistic beauty of a free radical

June 19, 2015

The study was conducted at the Center for Self-Assembly and Complexity within the Institute for Basic Science (IBS) in South Korea. Director Kimoon Kim and his team experimented with nitric oxide, a highly stable molecule ...

Scientists enlist lichens to monitor air pollution

November 3, 2017

An MIPT-based team of researchers has proposed analyzing lichen composition to assess atmospheric air quality when conventional monitoring stations are unavailable. They produced a case study of the Xanthoria parietina lichen, ...

Recommended for you

Detecting metabolites at close range

June 22, 2018

A novel concept for a biosensor of the metabolite lactate combines an electron transporting polymer with lactate oxidase, which is the enzyme that specifically catalyzes the oxidation of lactate. Lactate is associated with ...

CryoEM study captures opioid signaling in the act

June 22, 2018

Opioid drugs like morphine and fentanyl are a mainstay of modern pain medicine. But they also cause constipation, are highly addictive, and can lead to fatal respiratory failure if taken at too high a dose. Scientists have ...

Researchers achieve unprecedented control of polymer grids

June 21, 2018

Synthetic polymers are ubiquitous—nylon, polyester, Teflon and epoxy, to name just a few—and these polymers are all long, linear structures that tangle into imprecise structures. Chemists have long dreamed of making polymers ...

Template to create superatoms could make for better batteries

June 21, 2018

Virginia Commonwealth University researchers have discovered a novel strategy for creating superatoms—combinations of atoms that can mimic the properties of more than one group of elements of the periodic table. These superatoms ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.