Structural, electronic and optical properties of well-known primary explosive: Mercury fulminate.

The Journal of chemical physics

PubMedID: 26627968

Yedukondalu N, Vaitheeswaran G. Structural, electronic and optical properties of well-known primary explosive: Mercury fulminate. J Chem Phys. 2015;143(20):204704.
Mercury Fulminate (MF) is one of the well-known primary explosives since 17th century and it has rendered invaluable service over many years. However, the correct molecular and crystal structures are determined recently after 300 years of its discovery. In the present study, we report pressure dependent structural, elastic, electronic and optical properties of MF. Non-local correction methods have been employed to capture the weak van der Waals interactions in layered and molecular energetic MF. Among the non-local correction methods tested, optB88-vdW method works well for the investigated compound. The obtained equilibrium bulk modulus reveals that MF is softer than the well known primary explosives Silver Fulminate (SF), silver azide and lead azide. MF exhibits anisotropic compressibility (b > a > c) under pressure, consequently the corresponding elastic moduli decrease in the following order: C22 > C11 > C33. The structural and mechanical properties suggest that MF is more sensitive to detonate along c-axis (similar to RDX) due to high compressibility of Hg?O non-bonded interactions along that axis. Electronic structure and optical properties were calculated including spin-orbit (SO) interactions using full potential linearized augmented plane wave method within recently developed Tran-Blaha modified Becke-Johnson (TB-mBJ) potential. The calculated TB-mBJ electronic structures of SF and MF show that these compounds are indirect bandgap insulators. Also, SO coupling is found to be more pronounced for 4d and 5d-states of Ag and Hg atoms of SF and MF, respectively. Partial density of states and electron charge density maps were used to describe the nature of chemical bonding. Ag-C bond is more directional than Hg-C bond which makes SF to be more unstable than MF. The effect of SO coupling on optical properties has also been studied and found to be significant for both (SF and MF) of the compounds.