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  1. Abstract

    Helium, ammonia and ice are among the major components of giant gas planets, and predictions of their chemical structures are therefore crucial in predicting planetary dynamics. Here we demonstrate a strong driving force originating from the alternation of the electrostatic interactions for helium to react with crystals of polar molecules such as ammonia and ice. We show that ammonia and helium can form thermodynamically stable compounds above 45 GPa, while ice and helium can form thermodynamically stable compounds above 300 GPa. The changes in the electrostatic interactions provide the driving force for helium insertion under high pressure, but the mechanism is very different to those that occur in ammonia and ice. This work extends the reactivity of helium into new types of compounds and demonstrates the richness of the chemistry of this most stable element in the periodic table.

  2. Most metals adopt simple structures such as body-centered cubic (BCC), face-centered cubic (FCC), and hexagonal close-packed (HCP) structures in specific groupings across the periodic table, and many undergo transitions to surprisingly complex structures on compression, not expected from conventional free-electron-based theories of metals. First-principles calculations have been able to reproduce many observed structures and transitions, but a unified, predictive theory that underlies this behavior is not yet in hand. Discovered by analyzing the electronic properties of metals in various lattices over a broad range of sizes and geometries, a remarkably simple theory shows that the stability of metal structures is governed by electrons occupying local interstitial orbitals and their strong chemical interactions. The theory provides a basis for understanding and predicting structures in solid compounds and alloys over a broad range of conditions.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available February 21, 2024
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  6. All-nitrogen solids, if successfully synthesized, are ideal high-energy-density materials because they store a great amount of energy and produce only harmless N 2 gas upon decomposition. Currently, the only method to obtain all-nitrogen solids is to apply high pressure to N 2 crystals. However, products such as cg-N tend to decompose upon releasing the pressure. Compared to covalent solids, molecular crystals are more likely to remain stable during decompression because they can relax the strain by increasing the intermolecular distances. The challenge of such a route is to find a molecular crystal that can attain a favorable phase under elevated pressure. In this work, we show, by designing a novel N 16 molecule (tripentazolylamine) and examining its crystal structures under a series of pressures, that the aromatic units and high molecular symmetry are the key factors to achieving an all-nitrogen molecular crystal. Density functional calculations and structural studies reveal that this new all-nitrogen molecular crystal exhibits a particularly slow enthalpy increase with pressure due to the highly efficient crystal packing of its highly symmetric molecules. Vibration mode calculations and molecular dynamics (MD) simulations show that N 16 crystals are metastable at ambient pressure and could remain inactive up to 400more »K. The initial reaction steps of the decomposition are calculated by following the pathway of the concerted excision of N 2 from the N 5 group as revealed by the MD simulations.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 21, 2023
  7. Abstract Studies of molecular mixtures containing hydrogen sulfide (H 2 S) could open up new routes towards hydrogen-rich high-temperature superconductors under pressure. H 2 S and ammonia (NH 3 ) form hydrogen-bonded molecular mixtures at ambient conditions, but their phase behavior and propensity towards mixing under pressure is not well understood. Here, we show stable phases in the H 2 S–NH 3 system under extreme pressure conditions to 4 Mbar from first-principles crystal structure prediction methods. We identify four stable compositions, two of which, (H 2 S) (NH 3 ) and (H 2 S) (NH 3 ) 4 , are stable in a sequence of structures to the Mbar regime. A re-entrant stabilization of (H 2 S) (NH 3 ) 4 above 300 GPa is driven by a marked reversal of sulfur-hydrogen chemistry. Several stable phases exhibit metallic character. Electron–phonon coupling calculations predict superconducting temperatures up to 50 K, in the Cmma phase of (H 2 S) (NH 3 ) at 150 GPa. The present findings shed light on how sulfur hydride bonding and superconductivity are affected in molecular mixtures. They also suggest a reservoir for hydrogen sulfide in the upper mantle regions of icy planets in a potentially metallic mixture, which couldmore »have implications for their magnetic field formation.« less