Synchrotron X-ray Electron Density Analysis of Chemical Bonding in the Graphitic Carbon Nitride Precursor Melamine

Emilie S. Vosegaard, Maja K. Thomsen, Lennard Krause, Thomas B. E. Gronbech, Aref Mamakhel, Seiya Takahashi, Eiji Nishibori, Bo B. Iversen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Melamine is a precursor and building block for graphitic carbon nitride (g-CN) materials, a group of layered materials showing great promise for catalytic applications. The synthetic pathway to g-CN includes a polycondensation reaction of melamine by evaporation of ammonia. Melamine molecules in the crystal organize into wave-like planes with an interlayer distance of 3.3 Å similar to that of g-CN. Here we present an extensive investigation of the experimental electron density of melamine obtained from modelling of synchrotron radiation X-ray single-crystal diffraction data measured at 25 K with special focus on the molecular geometry and intermolecular interactions. Both intra- and interlayer structures are dominated by hydrogen bonding and π-interactions. Theoretical gas-phase optimizations of the experimental molecular geometry show that bond lengths and angles for atoms in the same chemical environment (C−N bonds in the ring, amine groups) differ significantly more for the experimental geometry than for the gas-phase-optimized geometries, indicating that intermolecular interactions in the crystal affects the molecular geometry. In the experimental crystal geometry, one amine group has significantly more sp 3-like character than the others, hinting at a possible formation mechanism of g-CN. Topological analysis and energy frameworks show that the nitrogen atom in this amine group participates in weak intralayer hydrogen bonding. We hypothesize that melamine condenses to g-CN within the layers and that the unique amine group plays a key role in the condensation process.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere202201295
JournalChemistry - A European Journal
Volume28
Issue54
Number of pages11
ISSN0947-6539
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2022

Keywords

  • chemical bonding
  • electron density
  • graphitic carbon nitride
  • melamine
  • synchrotron X-ray diffraction
  • EXPERIMENTAL CHARGE-DENSITY
  • CRYSTAL-STRUCTURE
  • NEUTRON-DIFFRACTION
  • SCATTERING FACTORS
  • MODEL ENERGIES
  • WAVE-FUNCTIONS
  • REFINEMENT
  • ACCURATE
  • 2,4,6-TRIAMINO-S-TRIAZINE
  • CRYSTALEXPLORER

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