Route to high-energy density polymeric nitrogen t-N via He-N compounds.

16 Mar 2018

Polymeric nitrogen, stabilized by compressing pure molecular nitrogen, has yet to be recovered to ambient conditions, precluding its application as a high-energy density material. Here we suggest a route for synthesis of a tetragonal polymeric nitrogen, denoted t-N, via He-N compounds at high pressures. Using first-principles calculations with structure searching, we predict a class of nitrides with stoichiometry HeN4 that are energetically stable (relative to a mixture of solid He and N2) above 8.5 GPa. At high pressure, HeN4 comprises a polymeric channel-like nitrogen framework filled with linearly arranged helium atoms. The nitrogen framework persists to ambient pressure on decompression after removal of helium, forming pure polymeric nitrogen, t-N. t-N is dynamically and mechanically stable at ambient pressure with an estimated energy density of ~11.31 kJ/g, marking it out as a remarkable high-energy density material. This expands the known polymeric forms of nitrogen and indicates a route to its synthesis.