Watching Elusive Radicals

Watching Elusive Radicals

Author: Kira Welter

A new experimental setup has allowed researchers in Russia and Germany to observe the magnetic interaction between two small inorganic species of great biological interest. The scientists at the Siberian Branch Russian Academy of Sciences and the University of Konstanz were able to “see” the elusive radicals nitric oxide (NO) and superoxide (O2•–) by making them work together. So far, it has been impossible to observe these small, linear radicals at ambient temperature in liquid media using common magnetic detection techniques. Now, with the help of spin chemistry, high-field magnets and a suitable chemical system, T. Y. Karogodina and colleagues have achieved this.

Superoxide radicals have been implicated in inflammatory processes while the role of nitric oxide as a messenger molecule is important in immune defense, cell communication, and vasodilatory action. Understanding how their magnetic interactions are affected by external factors can help explain the rates of recombination into reaction channels of different multiplicity or dissociation of the radical pair.

Image: (c) Wiley-VCH

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