Polymeric Nitrogen: Science Fiction Explosive
Researchers of the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry have synthesised a polymeric cubic form of nitrogen where all atoms are connected with single covalent bonds, similar to carbon atoms in diamond.
(From Polymeric nitrogen synthesised:
Polymeric cg-N-structure- Each nitrogen atom is connected to three neighbours by three single covalent bonds.)
It possesses unique properties such as energy capacity - more than five times that of the most powerful explosive:
"A lot more energy is stored in the single-bonded polymeric nitrogen than in the known stable form of triple-bonded molecular nitrogen. Therefore, a large amount of energy would be released under the transformation from the single-bonded to the molecular form, much more than that of the most powerful energetic materials. Since the only product of this transformation would be just common non-polluting molecular nitrogen, one should check if the new polymeric nitrogen could be used as a fuel or as an explosive."
Remarkably, E.E. "Doc" Smith wrote about pentavalent nitrogen in Spacehounds of IPC, published in 1931. He described it as a crystalline form of nitrogen that formed a powerful explosive.
See Polymeric nitrogen synthesised; thanks to Winchell Chung for suggesting this story.
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