Word map of Free Radical Reactions in Organic Chemistry

Free radical reactions in organic chemistry

An organic free radical is a free radical form of carbon possessing three single bonds and a single unpaired electron. The existence of such a species was long thought impossible. But in 1900, Russian chemist Moses Gomberg discovered the first organic free radical, and now many free radical organic chemistry researchers consider Gomberg the founder of their field.

It wasn't until the 1930s that free radical chemistry began to grow in importance. We now know that organic free radicals, initially viewed as a curiosity, play a fundamental role in the way enzymes function in the human body. These highly reactive species are implicated in the aging process as well as in the development of cancer and other diseases. Understanding organic free radicals has helped us to explain DNA synthesis and many other natural phenomena.

Free radical reactions have become an increasingly important tool in organic synthesis in the last two decades, because of their selectivity and specificity as well as their mild nature. They play a key role in the production of plastics, synthetic rubber, and other widely used synthetic materials.

In this series, we feature the following radical reactions:

Other named reactions featuring free radicals include:

  • Barton radical decarboxylation
  • Barton-McCombie radical deoxygenation
  • Barton nitrile ester reaction
  • Hofmann-Loffler-Freytag reaction
  • Minisci reaction