Carbon cluster formation during thermal decomposition of octahydro-1,3,5,7-tetranitro-1,3,5,7-tetrazocine and 1,3,5-triamino-2,4,6-trinitrobenzene high explosives from ReaxFF reactive molecular dynamics simulations.

The journal of physical chemistry. A

PubMedID: 19791809

Zhang L, Zybin SV, van Duin AC, Dasgupta S, Goddard WA, Kober EM. Carbon cluster formation during thermal decomposition of octahydro-1,3,5,7-tetranitro-1,3,5,7-tetrazocine and 1,3,5-triamino-2,4,6-trinitrobenzene high explosives from ReaxFF reactive molecular dynamics simulations. J Phys Chem A. 2009;113(40):10619-40.
We report molecular dynamics (MD) simulations using the first-principles-based ReaxFF reactive force field to study the thermal decomposition of 1,3,5-triamino-2,4,6-trinitrobenzene (TATB) and octahydro-1,3,5,7-tetranitro-1,3,5,7-tetrazocine (HMX) at various densities and temperatures. TATB is known to produce a large amount (15-30%) of high-molecular-weight carbon clusters, whereas detonation of nitramines such as HMX and RDX (1,3,5-trinitroperhydro-1,3,5-triazine) generate predominantly low-molecular-weight products. In agreement with experimental observation, these simulations predict that TATB decomposition quickly (by 30 ps) initiates the formation of large carbonaceous clusters (more than 4000 amu, or approximately 15-30% of the total system mass), and HMX decomposition leads almost exclusively to small-molecule products. We find that HMX decomposes readily on this time scale at lower temperatures, for which the decomposition rate of TATB is about an order of magnitude slower. Analyzing the ReaxFF MD results leads to the detailed atomistic structure of this carbon-rich phase of TATB and allows characterization of the kinetics and chemistry related to this phase and their dependence on system density and temperature. The carbon-rich phase formed from TATB contains mainly polyaromatic rings with large oxygen content, leading to graphitic regions. We use these results to describe the initial reaction steps of thermal decomposition of HMX and TATB in terms of the rates for forming primary and secondary products, allowing comparison to experimentally derived models. These studies show that MD using the ReaxFF reactive force field provides detailed atomistic information that explains such macroscopic observations as the dramatic difference in carbon cluster formation between TATB and HMX. This shows that ReaxFF MD captures the fundamental differences in the mechanisms of such systems and illustrates how the ReaxFF may be applied to model complex chemical phenomena in energetic materials. The studies here illustrate this for modestly sized systems and modest periods; however, ReaxFF calculations of reactive processes have already been reported on systems with approximately 10(6) atoms. Thus, with suitable computational facilities, one can study the atomistic level chemical processes in complex systems under extreme conditions.