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Radicals are just compounds or molecules that are not in their most stable form. This means that they do not have all of their valence electrons paired yet and thus are unstable. A good example of this is CH3, which is produced by incomplete combustion. This molecule of CH3, unlike methane (ch4), has two unpaired electrons. radicals are also different from ions such as OH-, which doesn't have any unpaired electrons as it is ionized. These radicals can be DNA or protein damaging as the unpaired electrons can bind to the DNA structure and destroy specific shape of the molecule. We often refer to DNA damage with the example fo the methylation of DNA which basically refers to ch3 molecules binding to DNA to prevent replication and transcription. This is also why we would require more vitamins, and especially anti-oxidants which take away the lone pairs of electrons from these radicals.
Radicals are simply compounds with unpaired electrons. Radicals are exception of the octet rule because a radical might not have a filled octet with 8 electrons. For example Dr. Lavelle talked about CH3 in class. When we draw out the lewis structure for CH3, the central atom C have 7 valence electrons, which violates the octet rule of having 8 valence electrons. Radicals are highly reactive since they are not in the most stable form.
The octet rule is a general rule of thumb, stating that each atom seeks to have eight valence electrons in its outermost shell. Exceptions to this rule include molecules with an odd number of electrons, which means that the octet formation is numerically impossible. This odd number of valence electrons is also known as a radical, which are highly reactive, and in most cases, cannot be stored. Overall, radicals are exceptions to the octet rule since they have an odd number of electrons. In terms of electron configuration, this means that they have electrons with unpaired spins, which explains why it is highly unstable and reactive.
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