In chemistry, a radical, also known as a free radical, is a molecule that includes at least one unpaired electron. Most molecules have an even number of electrons, and the covalent chemical bonds that hold the atoms together inside a molecule are often made up of pairs of electrons shared by the atoms connected by the connection. However, some molecules can have an odd number of electrons, most commonly one more or one less than an even number. When this occurs, the extra or missing electron is called a "radical", because it is thought to be a radical entity rather than part of a pair.
Free radicals are very reactive and can cause damage to cells. They are produced during normal metabolic activity in the body. For example, oxygen molecules (O2) from air that are trapped by fat molecules (lipids) are converted into fatty acid radicals which are responsible for destroying the lipids themselves. Other free-radical sources include cigarette smoke, chemicals used in pesticides and fertilizers, and environmental pollutants such as ozone and nitrogen oxides.
Radicals can also be introduced into the body by external agents such as ultraviolet light and ionizing radiation. These radicals can enter cells and cause damage by interacting with other molecules. The interaction usually results in mutation of the DNA molecule, which can lead to cancer. Free radicals have been implicated in several types of cancer including colon, prostate, breast, and skin cancers.
A radical is a chemical entity with an unpaired electron. In general, radicals are very reactive and quickly generate new bonds. It is possible for a radical to be electrically neutral. For example, in the presence of UV light, the chlorine molecule undergoes homolysis, yielding two Cl radicals.
Radicals can be good or bad. A radical that results from the breakdown of certain molecules in our body is called "radical oxygen species" or "ROS". These radicals can be helpful for killing bacteria and other organisms that would otherwise cause harm to our bodies. However some radicals such as those resulting from smoking cigarettes or burning incense may be harmful to our cells. See how adding radicals to chemicals can change their properties? That's why it is important to know which radicals are which when working with chemicals!
In chemistry, radicals are unstable molecules or ions that contain one or more unpaired electrons. They can be positive or negative, but most are negative. Radicals are ubiquitous in chemistry: every element has its own unique set of radicals, which determine how those elements react with each other. Understanding the behavior of radicals allows us to predict how any compound will behave.
Here is an example of how radicals are used to explain properties of molecules: if you add a radical to a chemical compound, it will lose its characteristic smell or taste.
An atom or group of atoms having an odd number of electrons is referred to as a free radical. An organic free radical is a carbon free radical with three bonds and a single unpaired electron. A free radical can react with another free radical, but it is far more likely to react with a stable, equally paired molecule. The most common type of reaction of a free radical with another substance is called oxidation-this means that one thing is converted into something else with a loss of energy.
In chemistry, oxygen molecules (O2) are oxidants because they give off two free radicals when they attach themselves to other substances. Free radicals are very reactive and will often try to escape from their parent compound by reacting with other substances. This can be good or bad depending on how you view the stability of chemicals. If a free radical can be used up to create another compound then this is known as oxidation reduction. For example, when oxygen molecules attach themselves to metals they become metal oxides which are useful in glass production and many other things. When oxygen attaches itself to carbon it becomes carbon dioxide which is harmless gas that allows plants to breathe.
Free radicals are important in biology because they are needed to break down toxic chemicals and to destroy harmful bacteria and viruses. Without these reactions there would be no way for us to detoxify pesticides or antibiotics which are done so that our bodies don't have to.