Photoactive high explosives: Linear and nonlinear photochemistry of petrin tetrazine chloride

Margo T. Greenfield, Shawn D. McGrane, Cindy A. Bolme, Josiah A. Bjorgaard, Tammie R. Nelson, Sergei Tretiak, R. Jason Scharff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


Pentaerythritol tetranitrate (PETN), a high explosive, initiates with traditional shock and thermal mechanisms. In this study, the tetrazine-substituted derivative of PETN, pentaerythritol trinitrate chlorotetrazine (PetrinTzCl), is being investigated for a photochemical initiation mechanism that could allow control over the chemistry contributing to decomposition leading to initiation. PetrinTzCl exhibits a photochemical quantum yield (QYPC) at 532 nm not evident with PETN. Using static spectroscopic methods, we observe energy absorption on the tetrazine (Tz) ring that results in photodissociation yielding N2, Cl-CN, and Petrin-CN as the major photoproducts. The QYPC was enhanced with increasing irradiation intensity. Experiment and theoretical calculations imply this excitation mechanism follows sequential photon absorption. Dynamic simulations demonstrate that the relaxation mechanism leading to the observed photochemistry in PetrinTzCl is due to vibrational excitation during internal conversion. PetrinTzCl's single photon stability and intensity dependence suggest this material could be stable in ambient lighting, yet possible to initiate with short-pulsed lasers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4846-4855
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry A
Issue number20
Publication statusPublished - 21 May 2015
Externally publishedYes


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