Sawyer, Donald T. Department of Chemistry, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas.
Last reviewed:January 2020
- Superoxide ion
- Superoxide dismutases
- Related Primary Literature
- Additional Reading
A branch of chemistry that deals with the reactivity of the superoxide ion (O2−), a one-electron (e−) adduct of molecular oxygen (dioxygen; O2) formed by the combination of O2 and e−. Because 1–15% of the O2 that is respired by mammals goes through the O2− oxidation state, the biochemistry and reaction chemistry of the species are important to those concerned with oxygen toxicity, carcinogenesis, and aging. Although the name superoxide has prompted many to assume an exceptional degree of reactivity for O2−, the use of the prefix in fact was chosen to indicate stoichiometry. Superoxide was the name given in 1934 to the newly synthesized potassium salt (KO2) to differentiate its two-oxygens-per-metal stoichiometry from that of most other metal–oxygen compounds (Na2O, Na2O2, NaOH, Fe2O3).
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