Fluorine is the most electronegative of the elements and bonds very strongly to most other elements, including carbon, hydrogen and silicon. In combination with its relatively small steric footprint, this means that fluorine atoms can exert powerful effects within molecules and drastically alter their behaviour. Incorporating fluorine into organic molecules may impart enhanced metabolic stability, binding interaction and biological activity. Physical properties of compounds can also be modified by the introduction of fluorine atoms.
These favourable effects lead to a wide range of applications in agrochemicals, polymers, performance fluids and general intermediates for organic synthesis. Even more impressive is the impact this tiny atom has had on the pharmaceutical industry in recent years. The introduction of fluorine into many medicinal agents makes them more potent and metabolically stable, and can vastly improve selectivity. Because of these properties, a great many of today’s top-selling drugs contain fluorine atoms.
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