Dicyanoacetylene Structural Formula V2.svg
Preferred IUPAC name
  • 1071-98-3 ☒N
3D model (JSmol)
  • Interactive image
  • 13449 ☒N
  • 14068
  • DTXSID50147919 Edit this at Wikidata
  • InChI=1S/C4N2/c5-3-1-2-4-6 ☒N
  • InChI=1/C4N2/c5-3-1-2-4-6
  • N#CC#CC#N
Molar mass 76.058 g·mol−1
Density 0.907 g/cm3
Melting point 20.5 °C (68.9 °F; 293.6 K)
Boiling point 76.5 °C (169.7 °F; 349.6 K)
+500.4 kJ/mol
Related compounds
Related compounds
Carbon suboxide
Except where otherwise noted, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C [77 °F], 100 kPa).
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Infobox references

Dicyanoacetylene, also called carbon subnitride or but-2-ynedinitrile (IUPAC), is a compound of carbon and nitrogen with chemical formula C4N2. It has a linear molecular structure, N≡C−C≡C−C≡N (often abbreviated as NC4N), with alternating triple and single covalent bonds. It can be viewed as acetylene with the two hydrogen atoms replaced by cyanide groups.

At room temperature, dicyanoacetylene is a clear liquid. Because of its high endothermic heat of formation, it can explode to carbon powder and nitrogen gas, and it burns in oxygen with a bright blue-white flame at a temperature of 5260 K (4990 °C, 9010 °F), the hottest flame in oxygen; burnt in ozone at high pressure the flame temperature exceeds 6000 K (5730 °C, 10340 °F).[1]


Dicyanoacetylene can be prepared by passing nitrogen gas over a sample of graphite heated to temperatures between 2673 and 3000 K.[2]

As a reagent in organic chemistry

Dicyanoacetylene is a powerful dienophile because the cyanide groups are electron-withdrawing, so it is a useful reagent for Diels-Alder reactions with unreactive dienes. It even adds to the aromatic compound durene (1,2,4,5-tetramethylbenzene) to form a substituted bicyclooctatriene.[3] Only the most reactive of dienophiles can attack such aromatic compounds.

In outer space

Solid dicyanoacetylene has been detected in the atmosphere of Titan by infrared spectroscopy.[4] As the seasons change on Titan, the compound condenses and evaporates in a cycle, which allows scientists on Earth to study Titanian meteorology.

As of 2006, the detection of dicyanoacetylene in the interstellar medium has been impossible, because its symmetry means it has no rotational microwave spectrum. However, similar asymmetric molecules like cyanoacetylene have been observed, and its presence in those environments is therefore suspected.[5]

See also


  1. ^ Kirshenbaum, A. D.; Grosse, A. V. (1956). "The Combustion of Carbon Subnitride, C4N2, and a Chemical Method for the Production of Continuous Temperatures in the Range of 5000–6000°K". Journal of the American Chemical Society. 78 (9): 2020. doi:10.1021/ja01590a075.
  2. ^ Ciganek, E.; Krespan, C. G. (1968). "Syntheses of Dicyanoacetylene". The Journal of Organic Chemistry. 33 (2): 541–544. doi:10.1021/jo01266a014.
  3. ^ Weis, C. D. (1963). "Reactions of Dicyanoacetylene". Journal of Organic Chemistry. 28 (1): 74–78. doi:10.1021/jo01036a015.
  4. ^ Samuelson, R. E.; Mayo, L. A.; Knuckles, M. A.; Khanna, R. J. (1997). "C4N2 Ice in Titan's North Polar Stratosphere". Planetary and Space Science. 45 (8): 941–948. Bibcode:1997P&SS...45..941S. doi:10.1016/S0032-0633(97)00088-3.
  5. ^ Kołos, R. (2002). "Exotic Isomers of Dicyanoacetylene: A Density Functional Theory and ab initio Study". Journal of Chemical Physics. 117 (5): 2063–2067. Bibcode:2002JChPh.117.2063K. doi:10.1063/1.1489992.