What are Free Radicals in Simple Words?

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What are free radicals?

Free radical Definition

Chemical species (atom/molecule) having unpaired valence shell electron.

Free Radical
Free Radical

For example :

Hydrogen atom having unpaired valence electron (1e-).

Similarly, the Chlorine atom has an unpaired valence electron (7e-).

Remember !!

unpaired electrons indicate an odd number of valence shell electrons .

Free Radical

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Free Radical Animated video in Urdu / Hindi:

How does free radical form?

Homolytic cleavage of the molecule (formed by the sharing of electrons via a covalent bond) results in the formation of free radicals.

Free Radical


What is Homolytic Cleavage?

Covalent bond breakage is when the shared electrons are split evenly between the products.

Free Radical formation
Free Radical formation

Representation of free radicals:

unpaired valence shell electron in free radical is represented by a dot.

Free Radical examples
Free Radical examples

Examples of free radicals:

Formation of Chlorine free radicals :

Cl2 is a stable Chlorine molecule. When the homolytic cleavage of the chlorine molecule takes place in the presence of light, it will result in the even distribution of electrons between the products as chlorine free radicals.

Chlorine Free Radical formation
Chlorine Free Radical formation

As you can see in the diagram the chlorine free radicals having 7 valence electrons (unpaired/odd electron numbers) indicates chlorine free radical formation.

Why free radicals are highly reactive?

free radicals are highly reactive due to the unpaired valence electron.

Properties of free radicals:

  • Free radicals having unpaired valence electrons
  • Free radicals are highly reactive
  • Free radicals are paramagnetic in nature

Also Read !!!

Ionic Bond

Covalent Bond

Coordinate Covalent Bond

Metallic Bond

Hydrogen Bond

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