Protonated hydrogen cyanide

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Protonated hydrogen cyanide
Protonated hydrogen cyanide.svg
Protonated hydrogen cyanide cation 3D spacefill.png
IUPAC names
Methylidyneammonium, [1] Methylidyneazanium [2]
Systematic IUPAC name
Methylidyneammonium [1]
Other names
Methanimine, Iminomethylcation; 1-Azoniaethyne [2]
3D model (JSmol)
PubChem CID
  • InChI=1S/CHN/c1-2/h1H/p+1 [1]
  • linear form (HC≡N+H):InChI=1S/CHN/c1-2/h1H/p+1 [2]
  • HC+=NH [4] :InChI=1S/CH3N/c1-2/h2H,1H2/q+1
  • linear form (HC≡N+H):C#[NH+]
  • HC+=NH:[CH+]=N
  • CNH+
  • H2CN+:C=[NH0+]
  • cis-HCNH+:[H]/[C]=[N+]\[H]
  • trans-HCNH+:[H]/[C]=[N+]/[H]
Molar mass 28.033 g·mol−1
Conjugate base Hydroisocyanic acid
C∞v (linear form (HC≡N+H))
linear: HC≡N+H
Flash point −21.3 to −43.7 °C (−6.3 to −46.7 °F; 251.8 to 229.5 K) [1]
Related compounds
Related isoelectronic
Except where otherwise noted, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C [77 °F], 100 kPa).

HCNH+, also known as protonated hydrogen cyanide, is a molecular ion of astrophysical interest. It also exists in the condensed state when formed by superacids.



In the ground state, HC+NH is a simple linear molecule, whereas its excited triplet state is expected to have cis and trans isomeric forms. The higher-energy structural isomers H2CN+ and C+NH2 have also been studied theoretically. [5]

Laboratory studies

As a relatively simple molecular ion, HCNH+ has been extensively studied in the laboratory. The very first spectrum taken at any wavelength focused on the ν2 (C−H stretch) ro-vibrational band in the infrared. [6] Soon afterward, the same authors reported on their investigation of the ν1 (N−H stretch) band. [7] Following these initial studies, several groups published manuscripts on the various ro-vibrational spectra of HCNH+, including studies of the ν3 band (C≡N stretch), [8] the ν4 band (H−C≡N bend), [9] and the ν5 band (H−N≡C bend) . [10]

While all of these studies focused on ro-vibrational spectra in the infrared, it was not until 1998 that technology advanced far enough for an investigation of the pure rotational spectrum of HCNH+ in the microwave region to take place. At that time, microwave spectra for HCNH+ and its isotopomers HCND+ and DCND+ were published. [11] Recently, the pure rotational spectrum of HCNH+ was measured again in order to more precisely determine the molecular rotational constants B and D. [12]

Formation and destruction

According to the database at, the most advanced chemical models of HCNH+ include 71 total formation reactions and 21 total destruction reactions. Of these, however, only a handful dominate the overall formation and destruction. [13] In the case of formation, the 7 dominant reactions are:

+ HCN → HCNH+ + H2
+ HNC → HCNH+ + H2
H3O+ + HCN → HCNH+ + H2O
H3O+ + HNC → HCNH+ + H2O
C+ + NH3 → HCNH+ + H

Astronomical detections

Initial interstellar detection

HCNH+ was first detected in interstellar space in 1986 toward the dense cloud Sgr B2 using the NRAO 12 m dish and the Texas Millimeter Wave Observatory. [14] These observations utilized the J = 1–0, 2–1, and 3–2 pure rotational transitions at 74, 148, and 222 GHz, respectively.

Subsequent interstellar detections

Since the initial detection, HCNH+ has also been observed in TMC-1 [15] [16] as well as DR 21(OH) [15] . [17] The initial detection toward Sgr B2 has also been confirmed. [15] [18] All 3 of these sources are dense molecular clouds, and to date HCNH+ has not been detected in diffuse interstellar material.

Solar System bodies

While not directly detected via spectroscopy, the existence of HCNH+ has been inferred to exist in the atmosphere of Saturn's largest moon, Titan, [19] based on data from the Ion and Neutral Mass Spectrometer (INMS) instrument aboard the Cassini space probe. Models of Titan's atmosphere had predicted that HCNH+ would be the dominant ion present, and a strong peak in the mass spectrum at m/z = 28 seems to support this theory.

In 1997, observations were made of the long-period comet Hale–Bopp in an attempt to find HCNH+, [20] but it was not detected. However, the upper limit derived from these observations, along with the detections of HCN, HNC, and CN, is important in understanding the chemistry associated with comets.

Related Research Articles

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Astrochemistry</span> Study of molecules in the Universe and their reactions

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Trihydrogen cation</span> Polyatomic ion (H₃, charge +1)

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Diazenylium</span> Chemical compound

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Cyano radical</span> Chemical compound

The cyano radical (or cyanido radical) is a radical with molecular formula CN, sometimes written CN. The cyano radical was one of the first detected molecules in the interstellar medium, in 1938. Its detection and analysis was influential in astrochemistry. The discovery was confirmed with a coudé spectrograph, which was made famous and credible due to this detection. ·CN has been observed in both diffuse clouds and dense clouds. Usually, CN is detected in regions with hydrogen cyanide, hydrogen isocyanide, and HCNH+, since it is involved in the creation and destruction of these species (see also Cyanogen).

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Calcium monohydride</span> Chemical compound

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