What's the most explosive chemical?

Let's blow the lid off this Q&A!
18 June 2019


Image of a firey explosion



What's the most explosive chemical?


Ljiljana - So the most explosive chemical was made in 2011 in the lab. Never went out of the lab it was made in a special chamber and it's called azidotetrazole. So that's a molecule that has 14 nitrogens in its own structure, and because of these constrained nitrogen bonds it's very explosive.

Chris - You're saying it's just 14 nitrogen atoms linked together?

Ljiljana - It has some carbons in the middle; two carbons only. So this is like a really huge amount of nitrogen and these nitrogens of course want to create stable compounds, which is nitrogen gas. Some scientists said that this molecule could explode even if you look at it, because you know it really reacts on a tiniest amount of pressure.

Chris - How did they make it then?

Ljiljana - So they had a specially designed chamber which is really you know anti-static. And you know it can contain huge explosions and they made a very small amount of grams. And the scientific paper is really funny to read because every single you know figure has a notice like this should not be attempted because every intermediate step is extremely explosive. So this was like just to prove the point that you can make it. But of course if you would think about commercial explosives we know TNT is pretty explosive but actually there is another version similar to TNT, it’s TATP which is called Mother of Satan.

Chris - Oh wow.

Ljiljana - Yes. So the name is very descriptive. It's even more explosive than TNT and some other explosives. So you know pretty interesting stuff. I think chemists actually have always had a little bit of a desire to make the next explosive things and then as we all know nitroglycerin was actually also in some way responsible for Nobel Prizes because this was one of the first explosives that was made by Alfred Nobel and he put all the money that he earned by selling this explosive into the foundation that gives the Nobel prizes. So this is one thing how explosives can also give something back to science

Chris - Just as well that they did!


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