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Additional resources for Physical Chemical Techniques. Physical Techniques in Biological Research
The materials obtained in this way are uniformly labeled, with each carbon atom having the same specific activity. Although the attempts to use the nuclear reactor for labeling with 14C were fruitless, the use of recoiling tritium nuclei, tritons, is an effective process, albeit subject to limitations which have not always been recognized. The first success in this direction was attained by Wolfgang et al. (1955) by exposing an intimate mixture of glucose and LÌ2CO3 to a relatively low flux of neutrons in a reactor.
B. BIOSYNTHESIS OF LABELED COMPOUNDS The other method available for the synthesis of an organic compound with an isotopie label depends on the biological activities of living organisms. When the isotope is 14 C, the product is generally labeled uniformly in all the carbon atoms. The biosynthetic method offers the advantage that many labeled compounds can be obtained in this way which cannot be synthesized in the laboratory by ordinary chemical procedures. This is particularly the case with the sugars, although by no means limited to this group of compounds.
The additional quantity liberated by the combustion of all the residues from tracer experiments is not likely to increase this concentration by a detectable amount. VI. The Measurement of the Heavy Stable Isotopes Most of the tracer isotopes used by the biologist are radioactive ones, but there are a few heavy stable isotopes which are equally important. As a tracer for hydrogen, the experimenter can choose between the heavy 38 JACOB SACKS stable deuterium and the radioactive tritium. For carbon, the radioactive 14 C has by no means completely replaced the heavy stable 13 C; many experiments require the use of both isotopes simultaneously.