Fr.: radical cyano
A diatomic chemical radical composed of carbon and nitrogen atoms. The triple bonds of C to H leave one electron available, which makes the CN radical very reactive. Organic molecules with the -CN group are potential sources of → prebiotic amino acids. Same as the → CN molecule. The CN radical was first identified by Gay-Lussac, who in 1815 published an extensive study of the derivatives of prussic acid (→ hydrogen cyanide). He showed that the cyano radical remained intact throughout a series of chemical transformations. Also called cyanogen radical.