High-pressure synthesis and crystal chemistry of novel ionic polynitrogen entities as the future's high energy density materials
Dr. Dominique Laniel
Mixing pure molecular nitrogen with highly reducing (alkaline earths) and oxidizing (chalcogens) elements under pressure allows to synthesize new ionic polynitrogen building blocks which can then be employed to construct poly-N only HEDMs.
How can we reduce the travel time to Mars while carrying a heavier load of equipment and personnel? How can we ensure that launching spaceships does not further pollute the Earth? The answer to these questions is: developing new nitrogen-based high energy density materials (HEDMs). Nitrogen is a unique element that can store and release the largest quantities of chemical energy, generated through the conversion of single-bonded arrangements of N-N into an environmentally-friendly decomposition product, triple-bonded molecular N2. While the potential of nitrogen has been known for a long time, harnessing its energetic potential through classical chemistry methods remains elusive due to the unstable nature of N-N single-bonds.
The pressure parameter however, is ideally adapted to produce new polynitrogen HEDMs as high densities spontaneously favour the formation of single bonds. My research focuses on exploiting the advantages of high pressures to synthesize novel polynitrogen ions under moderate pressures (<50 GPa) which can be retrieved down to ambient conditions. This is realized by compressing in laser-heated diamond anvil cells molecular nitrogen mixed with highly reactive elements, such as alkaline earths and chalcogens. The obtained new ionic polynitrogen building blocks provide new tools to design more powerful, efficient and greener HEDMs.