By Albert Szent-Györgyi
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Extra info for Bioelectronics: A Study in Cellular Regulations, Defense, and Cancer
The two electrons, given off by the reductant in an oxi doreduction, can just as well be given off to a metallic electrode. Accordingly, most oxidoreductions lead to a welldefined redox potential. This is not the case in charge trans fer. Charge transfer is a very personal affair between an acceptor and donor which involves great intimacy, an orbital 31 II. ELECTRONIC MOBILITY overlap. Such orbital overlap is difficult to establish between the donor and a piece of metal. The lack of w^ell-defined redox potentials may also be one of the reasons w^hy the biological importance of charge transfer has not been fully recognized.
The conventional forces responsible for van der Waals attraction are attraction of charges or dipoles supported by the London dispersion forces. A force which has been overlooked till now is that of charge transfer. It will not pull particles together, but once they are brought together and orbital overlap has been established, it may help to hold the particles together 59 IV. PHYSIOLOGY AND PATHOLOGY and even bring them into positions in which the overlap is maximal (Mulliken). In a way, the "snaps" on ladies* dresses are analogous to charge transfer complexes: They have to be pushed together to hold.
What Fig. 28c suggests is that in a row of such charge transfer complexes (as may be the case in a membrane), the dipole developed in a charge transfer may promote the DA inter action with the next molecule, making charge transfer cooperative. The structures thus generated may be two- or three-dimensional. The surface of a protein molecule consists of the outer occupied orbitals, surrounded by the empty ones. So if two such molecules touch, their orbitals touch. Where energy relations are favorable, and an occupied orbital of high biopotential touches an empty orbital of equal or lower biopotential, charge transfer must take place.