Competing channels in the thermal decomposition of azidoacetone studied by pyrolysis in combination with molecular beam mass spectrometric techniques

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The thermal decomposition of azidoacetone (CH3COCH2N3) was studied using a combined experimental and computational approach. Flash pyrolysis at a range of temperatures (296-1250 K) was used to induce thermal decomposition, and the resulting products were expanded into a molecular beam and subsequently analyzed using electron bombardment ionization coupled to a quadrupole mass spectrometer. The advantages of this technique are that the parent molecules spend a very short time in the pyrolysis zone (20-30 ys) and that the subsequent expansion permits the stabilization of thermal products that are not observable using conventional pyrolysis methods. A detailed analysis of the mass spectra as a function of pyrolysis temperature revealed the participation of five thermal decomposition channels. Ab initio calculations on the stable structures and transition states of the azidoacetone system in combination with an analysis of the dissociative ionization pattern of each channel allowed the identity and mechanism of each channel to be elucidated. At low temperatures (296-800 K) the azide decomposes principally by the loss of N-2 to yield the imine (CH3COCHNH), which can further decompose to CH3CO and CHNH. At low and intermediate temperatures a process involving the loss of N-2 to yield CH3CHO and HCN is also open. Finally, at high temperatures (800-1250 K) a channel in which the azide decomposes to a stable cyclic amine (CO(CH2)(2)NH) (after loss of N-2) is active. The last channel involves subsequent thermal decomposition of this cyclic amine to ketene (H2CCO) and methanimine (H2CNH).
Original languageUnknown
Pages (from-to)3086-3093
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry A
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2008

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