Research Highlights

Nature 455, 710-711 (9 October 2008) | doi:10.1038/455710f; Published online 8 October 2008

Organic chemistry: State benefits

Angew. Chem. Int. Edn doi:10.1002/anie.200803648 (2008)

A new explosive that is among the most powerful known has the added benefits of being a solid at room temperature but having a low melting point of about 85 °C. This means it should make for a safer and more useful explosive than alternative esters of nitrate because it can be poured rather than pressed into shape.

The tetranitrate ester was made from a commercially available dioxane molecule by David Chavez and his colleagues at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. They write that their invention reacted to impacts, sparks and friction like another high explosive, PTEN, which melts at more than 100 °C and is typically moulded as a solid. They predict that the new compound will detonate with as much force as the high-performance explosive HMX.