March 2012


Cyanamide (NH2CN) was initially discovered in Sgr B2 in the mid 1970s by Turner et al. with the NRAO 36-foot radio telescope based upon two rotational transitions. Since these line positions were estimated rather than measured, a later experimental study by Johnson et al. served as important confirmation of the detection and as the basis for subsequent assignments. As of the 2002 revision of Frank Lovas' NIST Recommended Rest Frequencies for Observed Interstellar Molecular Microwave Transitions, nearly 30 lines have been assigned to cyanamide. Many of these were assigned in the line surveys of Sgr B2 by Cummins et al. (1986) and Nummelin et al. (1998). Later experimental work by Read et al. contributed to many of these assignments. While most of the cyanamide observations have been restricted to Sgr B2, one blended line was assigned to cyanamide in observations of the Orion molecular cloud by Jacq et al. in 1990.

Cyanamide has been observed in at least two extragalatic sources: in NGC 253 (the Sculptor or Silver Dollar galaxy) by Martín et al. and in M82 (the Cigar galaxy) by Aladro et al.

Cyanamide is used in agriculture, for example, to control dormancy of grape vines, as a feedstock in the production of pharmaceuticals, and as an alcohol deterrent.

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