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Rate Constants of the CN + Toluene Reaction from 15 to 294 K and Interstellar Implications

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journal contribution
posted on 18.09.2020 by Joseph P. Messinger, Divita Gupta, Ilsa R. Cooke, Mitchio Okumura, Ian R. Sims
CN is known for its fast reactions with hydrocarbons at low temperatures, but relatively few studies have focused on the reactions between CN and aromatic molecules. The recent detection of benzonitrile in the interstellar medium, believed to be produced by the reaction of CN and benzene, has ignited interest in studying these reactions. Here, we report rate constants of the CN + toluene (C7H8) reaction between 15 and 294 K using a CRESU (Cinétique de Réaction en Ecoulement Supersonique Uniforme; reaction kinetics in uniform supersonic flow) apparatus coupled with the pulsed laser photolysis–laser-induced fluorescence (PLP–LIF) technique. We also present the stationary points on the potential energy surface of this reaction to study the available reaction pathways. We find the rate constant does not change over this temperature range, with an average value of (4.1 ± 0.2) × 10–10 cm3 s–1, which is notably faster than the only previous measurement at 105 K. While the reason for this disagreement is unknown, we discuss the possibility that it is related to enhanced multiphoton effects in the previous work.

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