Sometimes we have to deal with atoms or molecules that don't have all of their electrons paired up or bonded. We call these free radicals.
In each of these examples it is the unpaired, unbonded electron that makes these free radicals so reactive. These atoms and molecules have room for and a strong attraction for an additional electron. They can react with a wide variety of other chemicals to gain electrons.
Practice Identifying Free Radicals
To give you just a little practice working with free radicals, take some time now to identify the free radical in each of the following pairs of chemicals. Also, draw a Lewis diagram that illustrates why that chemical is a free radical. (This is also given in exercise 23 in your workbook.) Answers follow on the next page.
E-mail instructor: Eden Francis
Clackamas Community College