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Diverse chemistry of stable hydronitrogens found

May 20, 2016, 18:46 UTC+3 MOSCOW
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MOSCOW, 20 May. /TASS/. Skoltech professor Artem Oganov and his colleagues from USA and China have described very complex and diverse chemistry of hydronitrogens (N-H compounds) under pressure. Scientists have implemented USPEX (Universal Structure Predictor: Evolutionary Xtallography) algorithm and showed that unusual compounds, such as N8H, N4H, N3H, N9H4, N2H, NH, NH2, N3H7, NH4 and NH5 are stable under pressure and demonstrate some exotic properties, the Skoltech press service has said.

"Many different hydronitrogens, which existence of was previously thought impossible, were found during investigation," the press service said. Great structural and chemical diversity of predicted molecules, possibility of chemical reaction with them that can provide energy, the ability to be used as an information matrix (like DNA). All above opens a possibility of nitrogen-based life at high pressure.

"It turns out that hydronitrogens chemically more diverse, than hydrocarbons, so it offers the prospect the existence of hydronitrogens derivatives more numerous and diverse than organic molecules. You can even think about whether nitrogen-based life is possible instead of life based on carbon chemistry. Especially since large amounts of nitrogen and hydrogen, together with other elements exist under pressure in the depth of Neptune and Uranus," Oganov said.

Hydrogen is the most abundant, and nitrogen - seventh most abundant element in the universe. Giant planets Uranus and Neptune are predominantly made of hydrogen, oxygen, carbon and nitrogen. Compounds based on C-O and H-O under pressure has been investigated in some detail, the N-H system remains largely unexplored. Ammonia is the only stable hydronitrogen, which exists, in a wide range of temperatures and pressures. Therefore he was considered one of the main contents of the bowels of Uranus and Neptune.

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