IR spectra of unstable interstellar isocyanides

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  • Published: Jan 2, 2015
  • Author: Steve Down
  • Channels: Infrared Spectroscopy
thumbnail image: IR spectra of unstable interstellar isocyanides

The IR spectra of three organic isocyanides that have been observed in the interstellar medium have been recorded in the lab, which will help astroscientists to find them in space.

Isocyanides are susceptible to isomerisation to their more stable cyanides under standard lab condition, so are difficult to study. Writing in ChemPhysChem, the scientists based in France and Morocco who were involved in the study explained how they prepared vinyl, allenyl and propargyl isocyanide on the gram scale before evaporating them in a gas cell at a partial pressure of 10 mbar at room temperature.

Under these conditions, the isocyanides remained stable while the IR spectra were recorded. They were interpreted in detail, supported by calculation, to identify their characteristic features.

The spectra could be used to find isocyanides in areas of space where their more stable cyanides have been detected, such as the interstellar medium (the matter that lies between the stars), on comets and in the atmosphere of Saturn's moon Titan.  

Image: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

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