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Title: Experimental identification of aminomethanol (NH2CH2OH)—the key intermediate in the Strecker Synthesis

The Strecker Synthesis of (a)chiral α-amino acids from simple organic compounds, such as ammonia (NH3), aldehydes (RCHO), and hydrogen cyanide (HCN) has been recognized as a viable route to amino acids on primordial earth. However, preparation and isolation of the simplest hemiaminal intermediate – the aminomethanol (NH2CH2OH)– formed in the Strecker Synthesis to even the simplest amino acid glycine (H2NCH2COOH) has been elusive. Here, we report the identification of aminomethanol prepared in low-temperature methylamine (CH3NH2) – oxygen (O2) ices upon exposure to energetic electrons. Isomer-selective photoionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry (PI-ReTOF-MS) facilitated the gas phase detection of aminomethanol during the temperature program desorption (TPD) phase of the reaction products. The preparation and observation of the key transient aminomethanol changes our perception of the synthetic pathways to amino acids and the unexpected kinetic stability in extreme environments.

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Award ID(s):
2103269 1757220 1800975
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ; ;
Publisher / Repository:
Nature Publishing Group
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Nature Communications
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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