I. A study of electron absorbing compounds of biological interest. II. Experiments in life detection



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Although compounds of biological interest have succumbed to the attentions of gas chromatography, their successful analysis in the natural state may often be limited either by the presence of labile functional groups, or their occasional inability to survive passage through the chromatographic column intact. Furthermore, in order to perform their biological function, compounds such as the hormones need only to be present in trace amounts in the biological fluids in which they are operative. The electron absorption detector may be uniquely applied to the detection of ultramicro quantities of biologically active compounds, for it is the most sensitive of all ionization detectors. Moreover, it has a response which is highly selective. Thus, only certain compounds, including several biologically active intermediates, possess the specific "electron absorbing sites" within their molecular framework which are essential in order to elicit a significant response from the device. As one class of biologically important compounds, the steroid hormones and their metabolites are amenable to gas chromatography. The measurement of their relative electron absorption was therefore of fundamental importance in both the disciplines of chemistry and biology. The extension of the general technique of electron absorption to classes of non-absorbing compounds is demonstrated by the preparation of several potentially useful electron absorbing derivatives from model steroids.