Low-temperature mechanisms for the formation of substituted azanaphthalenes through consecutive CN and C2H additions to styrene and N-methylenebenzenamine: a theoretical study

J Am Chem Soc. 2013 May 15;135(19):7251-63. doi: 10.1021/ja400227q. Epub 2013 May 1.


Ab initio G3(MP2,CC)/B3LYP/6-311G** calculations of potential energy surfaces (PESs) for the reactions of cyano and ethynyl radicals with styrene and N-methylenebenzenamine have been performed to investigate a possible formation mechanism of the prototype nitrogen-containing polycyclic aromatic compounds: (substituted) 1- and 2-azanaphthalenes. The computed PESs and molecular parameters have been used for RRKM and RRKM-Master Equation calculations of reaction rate constants and product branching ratios under single-collision conditions and at pressures from 3 to 10(-6) mbar and temperatures of 90-200 K relevant to the organic aerosol formation regions in the stratosphere of a Saturn's moon Titan. The results show that ethynyl-substituted 1- and 2-azanaphthalenes can be produced by consecutive CN and C2H additions to styrene or by two C2H additions to N-methylenebenzenamine. All CN and C2H radical addition complexes are formed in the entrance channels without barriers, and the reactions are computed to be exothermic, with all intermediates and transition states along the favorable pathways residing lower in energy than the respective initial reactants. The reactions are completed by dissociation of chemically activated radical intermediates via H losses, so that collisional stabilization of the intermediates is not required to form the final products. These features make the proposed mechanism viable even at very low temperatures and under single-collision conditions and especially significant for astrochemical environments. In Titan's stratosphere, collisional stabilization of the initial CN + styrene reaction adducts may be significant, but substantial amounts of 2-vinylbenzonitrile and 2-ethynyl-N-methylenebenzenamine can still be produced and then react with C2H to form substituted azanaphthalenes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Alkynes / chemistry*
  • Aniline Compounds / chemistry*
  • Aza Compounds / chemistry*
  • Benzene Derivatives / chemistry
  • Cold Temperature
  • Extraterrestrial Environment / chemistry
  • Models, Molecular
  • Naphthalenes / chemistry*
  • Nitriles / chemistry*
  • Saturn
  • Styrene / chemistry*


  • Alkynes
  • Aniline Compounds
  • Aza Compounds
  • Benzene Derivatives
  • Naphthalenes
  • Nitriles
  • Styrene