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Mechanistic Investigation on the Initial Thermal Decomposition of Energetic Materials FOX‑7 and RDX in the Crystal and Gas Phase: An MM/DFT-Based ONIOM Calculation

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journal contribution
posted on 08.03.2022, 14:38 by Yinhua Ma, Meiheng Lv, Fangjian Shang, Chaoyang Zhang, Jianyong Liu, Panwang Zhou
Interpreting the initial decomposition mechanism is important for evaluating the thermal stability of explosives. In this study, we theoretically investigated the initial thermal decomposition reactions for two typical energetic materials, FOX-7 and RDX, in both the gas phase and crystal phase. Single molecular decomposition pathways in the gas phase are calculated using the density functional theory (DFT) method, and the crystal phase reactions are simulated through the MM/DFT-based ONIOM method. The calculation results indicate that the crystal environment has a significant influence on the initial thermal decomposition mechanism of FOX-7 and RDX. The cage effect induced by the crystal environment greatly confines molecular mobility and diffusion, rendering the generated small molecules to react with the remaining fragment and yield new decomposition channels compared with the gas phase condition. The crystal packing structures and intermolecular interactions (hydrogen bonds/π–π stacking) significantly increase the reaction barriers of FOX-7 and RDX, leading to the crystal phase reactions being more difficult to occur than in the gas phase. Since the practical application of explosives is mostly in the crystal state, it is important to consider the environmental effects on the initial decomposition reactions. The same insight can also be relevant for other energetic materials.