Radical initiator

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In chemistry, radical initiators are substances that can produce radical species under mild conditions and promote radical polymerization reactions. These substances generally possess weak bonds—bonds that have small bond dissociation energies. Radical initiators are utilized in industrial processes such as polymer synthesis. Typical examples are halogen molecules, azo compounds, and organic peroxides.

  • Azo compounds (R-N=N-R') can be the precursor of two carbon-centered radicals (R• and R'•) and nitrogen gas upon heating and/or by irradiation. For example, AIBN and ABCN yield isobutyronitrile and cyclohexanecarbonitrile radicals, respectively.

Radical initiators, especially azo compounds and organic peroxides, are inherently unstable. They must be kept in a cool place or refrigerated. Care should be taken with the handling of the compounds or an explosion may occur.

See also: Initiator