An excitonic mechanism of detonation initiation in explosives

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A novel mechanism for detonation initiation in solid explosives is proposed. This is based on electronic excitations induced by an impact wave propagating through the crystal. We illustrate the model by using the RDX (C3H6N6O6) crystal as an example. In our model, a key role belongs to lattice defects, in particular edge dislocations, which promote dramatic changes in the electronic structure, primarily a reduction of the optical gap due to the splitting off of local electronic states from both valence and conduction bands. The pressure inside the impact wavefront further reduces the band gap, making it close to zero. This promotes highest occupied molecular orbital-lowest unoccupied molecular orbital HOMO-LUMO transitions resulting in N-NO2 bond breaking and the creation of favorable conditions for the initiation of a chain reaction. Experimental facts supporting the suggested mechanism are discussed. © 2000 American Institute of Physics.

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Journal of Chemical Physics