DMSO is the short name for Dimethyl sulfoxide, an organosulfur compound bearing the chemical formula (CH3)2SO. DMSO is a polar aprotic solvent that dissolves polar and nonpolar compounds. DMSO can be mixed with a large array of organic solvents, including water. DMSO is colorless and has the property of penetrating the skin easily. The substance was first synthesized by Alexander Zaytzev in 1866, but he only made a report about what he found out a year later. DMSO is produced on a large scale by the oxidation of dimethyl sulfide with nitrogen dioxide or oxygen. The substance has several applications – as a solvent, for reactions, in biology, medicine and veterinary medicine.
DMSO is used as a solvent because it is less toxic than other of its class. It is frequently used in Finkelstein reactions and in nucleophilic substitutions which involve salt. It has a high boiling point – at 372.2 degrees Fahrenheit and also a high freezing point, at 65.3 degrees Fahrenheit, which make it a great solvent. It dissolves a large range of analyzes and is perfect for many NMR spectroscopic studies. DMSO is also very used in the production of microelectronic devices. The reactions of DMSO are useful for the deprotonation of ketones. Following this reaction, sodium enolates are formed. Through a similar process, DMSO helps phosphonium salts to form Wittig reagents and formamidium salts, diaminocarbenes.
In biology, DMSO is used in PCR and it is added to the mix before the reaction, to minimize the interfering reactions. DMSO is also a cryoprotectant and prevents cell death in the freezing process. Thanks to DMSO, cells can be stored safely in liquid nitrogen. DMSO is used in medicine since the 1960s, when a research team in Oregon discovered that the substance can penetrate the skins without producing damage, carrying other substances into the system. It is also used as an analgesic and as an antioxidant. Even so, the most common used of DMSO in medicine is as a drug delivery system. In veterinary medicine, this substance is used alone or combined with other to carry other substances through the skin. It is mostly used on horses.