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Elusive acid finally created

Textbook chemical cyanoform was sought for more than a century

By
4:13pm, September 24, 2015

After more than a century of searching, chemists have finally nabbed a legendary acid.

The acid called cyanoform or tricyanomethane appears widely in textbooks as one of the strongest carbon-based acids known. Yet despite attempts to make the acid dating back to 1896, cyanoform has evaded chemists until now. Researchers report September 18 in Angewandte Chemie International Edition that they isolated the acid by figuring out crucial experimental conditions.

The main problem was temperature, says coauthor Andreas Kornath, an inorganic chemist at Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich. Researchers previously assumed that cyanoform is stable at room temperature. “It is just not,” Kornath says.  Using trial and error, he and his team found that cyanoform is stable only below –40°Celsius.

The acid has a central carbon atom attached to a hydrogen atom as

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