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Polymerization of Acetonitrile via a Hydrogen Transfer Reaction from CH3 to CN under Extreme Conditions

Publication Type
Journal Name
Angewandte Chemie International Edition
Publication Date
Volume 55
Issue 39

Acetonitrile (CH3CN) is the simplest and one of the most stable nitriles. Reactions usually occur on the C≡N triple bond, while the C−H bond is very inert and can only be activated by a very strong base or a metal catalyst. It is demonstrated that C−H bonds can be activated by the cyano group under high pressure, but at room temperature. The hydrogen atom transfers from the CH3 to CN along the CH⋅⋅⋅N hydrogen bond, which produces an amino group and initiates polymerization to form a dimer, 1D chain, and 2D nanoribbon with mixed sp2 and sp3 bonded carbon. Finally, it transforms into a graphitic polymer by eliminating ammonia. This study shows that applying pressure can induce a distinctive reaction which is guided by the structure of the molecular crystal. It highlights the fact that very inert C−H can be activated by high pressure, even at room temperature and without a catalyst.