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Journal of the American Chemical Society

The benzil-cyanide reaction and its application to the development of a selective cyanide anion indicator.


PMID 18698844

Abstract

The benzil-cyanide reaction is a cyanide-specific reaction that has been exploited to produce a colorimetric indicator for this toxic anion. This was done by producing a pi-extended analogue of benzil, 7, which is soluble in a 70:30 (v/v) mixture of methanol-water. In this medium, dilute solutions of 7 are yellow but produce colorless products when exposed to low concentrations of cyanide anion (> or = 1.7 microM; added as an aqueous NaCN solution), but no other common anions (e.g., OH(-), F(-), N3(-), benzoate(-), and H2PO4(-)). On the basis of these observations and supporting mechanistic analyses, it is concluded that the modified benzil system 7 is a promising cyanide anion indicator that is attractive in terms of its selectivity, ease-of-use, water compatibility, and the low, naked-eye discernible cyanide detection limit it provides.

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