With the exception of specialized publications, organic chemistry textbooks have very few examples or explanations applying to compounds of fluorine, which shares chemical similarities with chlorine, bromine, and iodine. Consequently, people are generally unfamiliar with the role played by element, even if they have heard of it.
Fluorine compounds, which are characterized by resistance to chemical substances, heat, and light; non-viscous consistency; water and oil repellence; low friction; electrical insulating properties; and radiation sensitivity as well as low refractive indexes and dielectric constants, have unique physiological properties and a resistance to change. Fluorine-based materials include super-weather-resistant fluorine-based paints that last more than 30 years, agricultural-use fluorine film that need not be changed for 10 or more years, and water- and oil-repellent agents for use in treating textiles and leather, and fluorine makes a significant contribution to energy and resource savings in homes and automobiles. It also supports innovation in the semiconductor and IT industries, and fluorine-based materials play a major role in the development of clean energy products such as lithium batteries and fuel cells.
Turning our attention to physiologically active substances, the best-selling hyperlipidemia pharmaceutical in the world contains fluorine. In addition, the compound 5-fluorouracil as introduced in the novel Shiroikyoto has long been used as an anticancer drug, and researchers are developing fluorine-based anticancer drugs that will be effective against difficult-to-treat pancreatic cancer. A recently introduced glaucoma drug also contains fluorine.
What’s more, positron emission tomography (PET) using fluorine, which can quickly and precisely detect foci in a nondestructive manner, is gaining importance as a diagnostic technique deployed in support of advanced medical science. Fluorine-based agricultural chemicals are also on their way to becoming the most commonly used products in their class.
In this way, fluorine is a deeply interesting element not only for science, but also for industry, medicine, and pharmacology, and fluorine compounds comprise a group of materials that enrich our daily lives.