Francis T. BonnerFrancis T. Bonner, Professor

Founding Chairman, 1958-1970

B.S. 1942, University of Utah
M.S. 1944
Ph.D. 1945, Yale University
Carnegie Fellow, 1954-1955
NSF Senior Postdoctoral Fellowship, 1964-1965


Physcial and Inorganic Chemistry

Our research over the years has been dedicated to the exploration and elucidation of inorganic reaction mechanisms, and the role of reactive intermediate species, particularly in the realm of nitrogen chemistry. The experimental methodologies employed in this work are those of chemical kinetics, isotopic labeling and exchange, and spectroscopy, including nitrogen-15 NMR. Our work has included numerous studies of the chemistry of nitric oxide (NO), e.g. detailed examination of the kinetics and mechanism of its reduction by iron(II), hydroxylamine and other reagents. We have demonstrated the appearance and properties of the reactive molecule HNO ("nitroxyl") and its conjugate anion NO- in a variety of aqueous solution settings, and in the course of these studies have demonstrated the occurrence of NO- in different electronic states, analogous to the isoelectronic case of singlet (excited) and triplet (ground) states of the dioxygen molecule.

Much of our work has borne important relation to understanding of the global nitrogen cycle. In addition, rapid discoveries since 1987 have shown that nitric oxide (NO), plays multiple, pervasive and important roles in mammalian physiology, e.g. in blood pressure regulation, neurotransmission, and the immune system (toxicity to invading organisms via enzyme inhibition). Nitroxyl has turned out to be a significant player in physiological function as well, and these discoveries have given our studies direct and particular relevance to biology and medicine.


"The Aqueous Solution Chemistry of Nitrogen in Low Positive Oxidation States." F. T. Bonner and M. N. Hughes, Comments on Inorganic Chemistry, 1988, 7, 215.

"Stoicheiometric and Nitrogen-15 Labelling Studies on the Hyponitrous Acid-Nitrous Acid Reaction." F. T. Bonner, C. E. Donald and M. N. Hughes, J. Chem. Soc., Dalton Trans. 1989, 527.

"Kinetics of the Reactions of Trioxodinitrate and Nitrite Ions with Cytochrome d in Escherichia Coli." F. T. Bonner, M. N. Hughes, R. K. Poole and R. I. Scott, Biochem. Biophys. Acta 1991, 1056, 133.

"Formation of the Oxygen-Nitrogen Bond." F. T. Bonner, Chapter 3.3.2 in Inorganic Reactions and Methods, Volume 5, ed. J. J. Zuckerman and A. P. Hagen. New York: VCH Publishers, Inc., 1991, pp 44-57.

"Kinetic, Isotopic and 15N NMR Study of N-Hydroxybenzenesulfonamide Decomposition: an HNO Source Reaction." F. T. Bonner and Y. Ko, Inorg. Chem. 1992, 31, 2514.

"Protonation Nitrogen Shielding and NOE in Aqueous Nitrite and Solid-State 15N NMR of NOBF4 and NO2BF4." Y. Ko, F. T. Bonner, G. B. Crull and G. S. Harbison, Inorg. Chem. 1993, 32, 3316.

"The Chemistry of Nitric Oxide and Redox-Related Species." F. T. Bonner and G. Stedman, Chapter 1 in Methods in Nitric Oxide Research, ed. M Feelisch and J. S. Stamler. London: John Wiley and Sons Ltd., 1996, pp 3-18.

"Nitric Oxide Gas." F. T. Bonner, Chapter 5 in Methods in Enzymology, Volume 268, ed. L. Packer. New York: Academic Press, 1996, pp 50-57.

"The Story of NO: How a Small Toxic Molecule Made it to the Big Time." F. T. Bonner and M. N. Hughes, Science Spectra, 1996, 4, pp 32-37.