A paper [Chem. Phys. Lett. 345, 295 (2001)] describes theoretical studies of excited electronic states of nitrogen molecules, with a view toward utilizing those states in synthesizing tetrahedral N4, or Td N4 — a metastable substance under consideration as a high-energy-density rocket fuel. Several ab initio theoretical approaches were followed in these studies, including complete active space self-consistent field (CASSCF), state-averaged CASSCF (SA-CASSCF), singles configuration interaction (CIS), CIS with second-order and third-order correlation corrections [CIS(D) and CIS(3)], and linear response singles and doubles coupled-cluster (LRCCSD). Standard double zeta polarized and triple zeta double polarized one-particle basis sets were used.

The CASSCF calculations overestimated the excitation energies, while SACASSCF calculations partly corrected these overestimates. The accuracy of the CIS calculations varied, depending on the particular state, while the CIS(D), CIS(3), and LRCCSD results were in generally good agreement. The energies of the lowest six excited singlet states of Td N4 as calculated by the LRCCSD were compared with the energies of possible excited states of N2 + N2 fragments, leading to the conclusion that the most likely route for synthesis of Td N4 would involve a combination of two bound quintet states of N2.

This work was done by Timothy J. Lee of Ames Research Center and Christopher E. Dateo of Eloret Corp.

Inquiries concerning rights for the commercial use of this invention should be addressed to the Ames Technology Partnerships Division at (650) 604-2954. Refer to ARC-15125-1.

NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the March, 2007 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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