Glycine was formed in 12.0% yield when a solution containing octacyanomolybdate, ammonium chloride, and formaldehyde was irradiated by visible light for 48 hours. The yield of glycine formation was increased to 23.2% when near-ultraviolet light was allowed to irradiate a similar mixture. However, the radiochemical yield of glycine from carbon-14 labelled octacyanomolybdate, ammoniumchloride, and unlabelled formaldehyde was found to be only 0.3%. The dichotomy was resolved on the basis that spectroscopic evidence did not show the presence of glycine but did show the presence of other unidentified compounds.
Amino acid analyses were performed. The low yield of glycine was thus confirmed. Serine, aspartic acid, and glutamic acid were also found but in yet lesser yields. A hydrolysis experiment indicated the possible presence of α-amino nitriles as precursors to α-amino
The absence of oxygen in the irradiated mixture was shown to increase the yield of amino acids produced. The presence of titanium dioxide, as a catalyst, was also shown to increase the yield of amino acids.