Hydrocyanic acid has two isomeric forms and cyanides, and isocyanides are the derivatives of the hydrocyanic acid. Hydrogen cyanide exists as a tautomeric mixture. Cyanide is a potentially deadly chemical that reacts rapidly and it occurs in the various forms. It may be a colorless gas or can exist in the form of crystals. In the military designation, cyanide is termed as CK for the cyanogen chloride and AC for the hydrogen cyanide. Cyanide is significantly harmful to the brain and heart, and it prevents the cell bodies to use oxygen. Cyanide is released from natural substances, from certain foods and plants such as apple, peaches, apricots, limba beans, almonds, and cassava.
Cyanides are produced by the replacement of hydrogen atom of HCN by an aryl or alkyl group. They have general formula RCN where R represents the aryl or alkyl group. The alkyl group can also be attached to the -CN group the atom of nitrogen. Both cyanides and isocyanides are the isomeric forms. In the common naming system, the name of cyanides is the alkyl cyanides and its common name is methyl cyanide. Isocyanides are named as alkyl isocyanides.
Isocyanides are also known as isonitriles and they have a nitrogen atom that is bonded to an R group and a carbon atom. In a large number of organic reactions, isocyanides are very popular components due to their unique reactions. Due to their functional group tolerance, the isocyanide multicomponent reactions can be used to synthesize the diverse array of organic compounds. They have high levels of regio-, chemo- and stereo activities. A diverse range of the metabolites, produced by the plants, marine organisms, and terrestrial organisms are isocyanides in nature.
Cyanides can be easily converted to the amides, acids, and amines so they are a good synthetic route to prepare these compounds. One more carbon atom is resulted due to the conversion of alkyl halides to the alkyl cyanides. So, they can also be used as intermediates to increase the number of carbon atoms in the chain. Acetonitrile has good use as the industrial solvent, and it is also used in the manufacturing of textiles, and nitriles rubber. Alkyl cyanides are poisonous, and they are soluble in water and organic solvents. They are the neutral substance having a pleasant odor, which is somehow similar to the bitter almonds. Cyanides are pleasant whereas, isocyanides are extremely unpleasant. Cyanides have more dipole moment, while the dipole moment of isocyanides is less.