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Nitrogen 'Diamond' Created 73

Sensible Clod writes "Researchers of the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry have synthesized a new form of nitrogen, with a stucture like that of diamond. This was accomplished by means of a crushing force (>110 GPa) at extremely high temperature (2000 K), of course. The result, according to PhysOrg, is a very hard crystal with a lot of energy stored in it, which leads to the possibility of using it as a non-polluting fuel or high-explosive."
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Nitrogen 'Diamond' Created

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  • Re:Properties? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by the morgawr ( 670303 ) on Tuesday October 12, 2004 @02:23PM (#10505483) Homepage Journal
    From reading the article, it doesn't sound like they've gotten the material to stay that way at room temperature and pressure yet, so measuring much that stuff would be difficult.
  • Reminds me of... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by reverseengineer ( 580922 ) on Tuesday October 12, 2004 @02:39PM (#10505663)
    This seems somewhat like a what a polymerized azide ((N3)- ion)compound would be like, perhaps with many similar properties- I can see the uses as a high explosive, as sodium azide is generally the explosive in airbags- a couple grams of the salt is sufficient to generate over 50L of nitrogen gas quite rapidly. The rearrangement of this network solid into triple-bonded gas molecules should release an enormous amount of energy. I wonder if this is nearly as sensitive to shock as the azides are though.
  • Hmm (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Couldn'tCareLess ( 818316 ) on Tuesday October 12, 2004 @03:12PM (#10506030)
    "which leads to the possibility of using it as a non-polluting fuel or high-explosive."
    I wonder which one will get funding...
  • caseless ammunition (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 12, 2004 @03:13PM (#10506033)
    seems like it would be good for use in ammunition smoke and greeseless, compact,light, maby water resistant,
    if they can get it to detonate only under specific conditions it seems like it would make good caseless ammunition charge
  • Drilling? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Paster Of Muppets ( 787158 ) on Tuesday October 12, 2004 @03:34PM (#10506274)

    How about using it as a tip for drilling? If so, you'd need to work out how much pressure it could sustain, as well as its hardness factor (on the Mohs Hardness Scale []). If it would have explosive tendencies at high pressure, I suggest it not be used to drill for oil. However, it could replace natural diamond to drill for metals, provided it is "harder" than them. If it should explode while drilling for metals, this could be rather useful...

  • by manganese4 ( 726568 ) on Tuesday October 12, 2004 @09:12PM (#10509648)
    From the pictures each nitrogen unit cell appears planar and the polymer appears in sheets, much more like graphite than diamond.
  • Re:fuel, my ass! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Christopher Thomas ( 11717 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @11:23AM (#10513904)
    Other, even higher energy (non-nuclear) fuels include:

    Metallic Hydrogen: 2 H(s) -> H2(g) 138 MJ/kg
    Free-Radical Hydrogen: H + H -> H2 104 MJ/kg
    Metastable Helium: He* -> He 480 MJ/kg
    Ionic Hydrogen: H(+) + H(-) -> H2 835 MJ/kg

    It occurs to me that if you're prepared to use magnetic confinement to store reagent ions, you can get an Isp as high as you like by using electrons and fully- (or just deeply-) ionized heavy atoms.

    Hydrogen's ionization potential of 13.6 eV gives 1.3 GJ/kg on recombination.
    Helium's ioniztion potentials of 24.5 and 54.4 eV give 1.9 GJ/kg.
    Fully-ionized carbon gives 8.3 GJ/kg.

    While magnetic confinement only allows low storage densities, with enough energy, this stops mattering. The only catch is that you have to have to be able to do something useful with the resulting photons (i.e. use them to heat an exhaust plasma, or in the worst case power an electric drive, though conversion efficiencies bite you there, as these photons are mostly soft x-rays).

    For very heavy elements, with inner-shell electrons orbiting fast enough to be relativistic, you can get energy to mass ratios almost as good as fusion (one to two orders of magnitude worse).

    Of course, ionized hydrogen has the virtue of being stable as crystal defects in frozen helium, unlike more aggressively ionized elements (though storing it like that gives a hefty Isp penalty).

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