September 1, 2020

ACS Cent. Sci., 2020, 6, 1572-1577

DOI: 10.1021/acscentsci.0c00944

The unsaturated diatomic P≡N observed in the interstellar medium among other phosphorus-bearing molecules, such as PO, HCP, CP and PH3, all of which may have been essential ingredients for the formation of life on Earth. P≡N was spectroscopically observed in the gas phase nearly 100 years ago. The molecule was later isolated under cryogenic conditions yet its thermodynamic instability hampers further study. Researchers at Indiana University have stabilized the elusive P≡N as a Mo complex, enabling the exploration of the chemistry of this astronomically relevant molecule. This discovery is charting a viable route to studying other transient, unsaturated molecules.

Jorge L. Martinez1, Sean A. Lutz1, Daniel M. Beagan1, Xinfeng Gao1, Maren Pink1, Chun-Hsing Chen1, Veronica Carta1, Pierre Moënne-Loccoz2, and Jeremy M. Smith1*

1 Department of Chemistry, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana 47405, USA

2 Department of Chemical Physiology and Biochemistry, School of Medicine, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, Oregon 97239, USA

*Corresponding author. Email: smith962@indiana.