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Durham University

Institute of Advanced Study

Past Events

IAS Fellow's Public Lecture - Molecules that don't exist but should

24th January 2019, 17:30 to 18:30, Ustinov Room, Van Mildert College, Professor Rodney Bartlett (University of Florida)

Abstract

The evolution of our concept of chemical bonds has evolved from Democritus’ atoms, into atoms with hooks attached, to G. S. Lewis’ concept of an electron pair bond. Though this ‘classical’ picture organizes a lot of chemistry, only when quantum mechanics was discovered does a fully satisfactory explanation emerge. But nonetheless, even classical concepts of bonds can be employed to suggest many experimentally unknown molecules that “Don’t Exist, but should’, and many of these molecules if synthesized, might have an important role in their application. The particular group that Professor Bartlett will focus on in this talk are the attempts to make molecules out of nitrogen atoms. Unlike ubiquitous molecules made from C atoms, N atoms resist being tied together with only the nitrogen molecule and the azide ion (N3-) being well known. This is because it is energetically unfavorable to make other N bonds, yet if they could be made and had sufficient barriers to decomposition to keep them around, they could be used to store large amounts of energy as might be useful in rocket fuels and other applications. The prospects for the latter can be assessed with today’s ‘predictive’ level of quantum chemistry.

R. J. Bartlett, "Exploding the mysteries of nitrogen," Chemistry & Industry 4, 140-143 (2000).

This lecture is free and open to all.


Details about Professor Rodney Bartlett

Directions to Ustinov Room, Van Mildert College

Map - Van Mildert College is denoted as building No.4


Contact enquiries.ias@durham.ac.uk for more information about this event.