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Physical Chemistry

FBNCO—A Winning Combination In Elemental Bingo

Chemists have prepared a gas-phase molecule that is just a neon short of containing all the 2p-block elements

by Stephen K. Ritter
October 20, 2014 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 92, ISSUE 42

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Credit: Chem. Commun.
A calculated spin-density plot of the unusual gas-phase molecule FBNCO places the radical mostly on the boron atom.
09242-scicon-fbncocxd.jpg
Credit: Chem. Commun.
A calculated spin-density plot of the unusual gas-phase molecule FBNCO places the radical mostly on the boron atom.

Anna Troiani and Giulia de Petris of Sapienza University of Rome and their colleagues get an A for effort after mixing and matching elements to prepare the unusual molecule FBNCO. The bent-chain radical species is believed to be the first experimentally observed compound that contains one atom of each of the 2p-block elements in the periodic table, with the excusable exception of the inert noble gas neon. The team created FBNCO in a sequence of events by ionizing boron trifluoride (BF3) in the presence of isocyanic acid (HNCO) in a mass spectrometer (Chem. Commun. 2014, DOI: 10.1039/c4cc05217j). The team isolated and probed the short-lived FBNCO in the gas phase for less than a microsecond, but that was long enough to use neutralization-reionization mass spectrometry coupled with theoretical calculations to determine the connectivity of the elements and suss out the molecule’s energetic properties. The radical’s unpaired electron is centered on the boron atom, and the molecule has a dissociation energy of 50 kcal/mol and an isomerization energy of 21 kcal/mol, meeting stability criteria to make it a certifiable compound, the researchers note. The next step will be to isolate the species in solution or as a solid, in which case FBNCO potentially could play a role as a building block in nanofilms for electronics.

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