Friday, July 13, 2012


I totally enjoy forensic science, and chemistry is my obsession. So that leads one to wonder about what my future profession may be. Well, here is the thing, I love explosives. If it goes boom, I will find it fascinating (no, not the bomb crazed fanatic arsonist type of way, I really just enjoy the complexity of the reactions that cause them). 
And recently, I came across a compound that has made me crazy to know more.   
Octanitrocubane(bit of a mouthful isn't it?) This compound is so complex, awesome, and, way to expensive to synthesize in any great quantity(trust me this is a good thing).
So. what is it? Well, basically put, it is an extremely powerful (likely the most powerful at this point) non-nuclear explosive. This leads one to think that such a compound would be highly unstable. And that is the catch. Octanitrocubane is such a stable compound that it needs a detonator to go boom. The fact that it is so stable would make it a great explosive to use in construction as well as many military applications. .
But, the most interesting thing about this compound has to be its shape. It is its shape that lead many scientists to be extremely doubtful to its ability to ever be synthesized. Octanitrocubane has a cubane of carbon at its center. The reason why people were sceptic was the fact that carbon forms 109 degree angles, not 90 degree ones. But, a Professor from the University of Chicago would prove them wrong. Prof. Philip Eaton was able to synthesize cubane in 1964.

And in 2000 he was able to get nitro groups ( a component found in almost every explosive) to attach.
Because of this, Octanitrocubane has a  20% greater performance than HMX. This mainly do to the breakdown of the explosive into CO2 and N2, and the absence of water vapor.
Sadly only small amounts have been produced in the lab, not quite enough for performance testing as of yet.

So, go off into cyber land and gain more knowledge about this fascinating compound my science minions. :) And, if you have something else that you find interesting, give me  a holler about it and the next article just might feature it. 

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