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Chemical reactions that involve radical intermediates can be influenced by magnetic fields, which act to alter their rate, yield, or product distribution. These effects have been studied extensively in liquids, solids, and constrained media such as micelles. They may be interpreted using the radical pair mechanism (RPM). Such effects are central to the field of spin chemistry of which there have been several detailed and extensive reviews. This review instead presents an introductory account of the field of spin chemistry, suitable for use by graduate students or researchers who are new to the area. It proceeds by giving a brief historical overview of the development of spin chemistry, before introducing the essential theory. This is then illustrated by application to a series of recent developments in solution-phase magnetic field effects (MFEs). The closing pages of this review describe the role played by spin chemistry in the remarkable magnetic compass sense of birds and other animals. © 2009 IUPAC.

Original publication




Journal article


Pure and Applied Chemistry

Publication Date





19 - 43