Meade, Thomas J. Division of Biology, Beckman Institute, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California.
Last reviewed:January 2020
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A compound containing the OCN group, typically a salt or ester of cyanic acid (HOCN). The cyanate ion is ambidentate, that is, it has two reactive sites, because it can bind through the oxygen (O) or the nitrogen (N). Cyanate is commonly N-bonded with most nonmetallic elements, presumably because of the small charge density on the oxygen. Cyanic acid has the structure HOCN, but it may exist in an isomeric form known as isocyanic acid, HNCO. The cyanates are isomeric with fulminates, where the carbon and the nitrogen are transposed (ONC).
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