From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Explosophores are functional groups in organic chemistry that give organic compounds explosive properties. The term was first coined by Russian chemist V. Pletz in 1935. [1] and originally mistranslated in some articles as "plosophore". Also of note is an auxoexplose concept(similar to chromophore and auxochrome concept), which is a group that modifies the explosive capability of the molecule. Pletz grouped the explosophores into eight distinct categories. [2][3] It has been suggested that the current list is insufficient and that several other new categories should be added. [4]

I. –NO2, –ON=O and –ONO2 
The nitro (in which the nitrogen bonds to the organic molecule), nitrite (in which oxygen is bonded to the organic molecule), and nitrate ester (in which nitrogen is between one oxygen bonded to the organic molecule and the other two oxygen atoms) groups respectively connected to organic molecules (by far the most commercially used explosives are nitrate/nitrite based). (Another functional group that is frequently considered as an explosophore is picrate, the salts or ethers of picric acid (2,4,6-trinitrophenol), which gains its explosive capability from the nitrate groups attached to it.) These nitro-containing groups are particularly strong explosophores because of the fact that they react to form molecular nitrogen, which is a very stable molecule, so the overall reaction is strongly exothermic (the gas formed also expands, causing the shock wave which is observed). The considerations apply to II and III below, which are also nitrogen-containing.
II. –N=N– and –N=N+=N– 
The azo and azide groups respectively, connected to organic/inorganic compounds (e.g. AgN3, Pb(N3)2, NH4N3)
III. –RnNXm 
The Halogenated nitrogen group X:halogen (for example NI3 and RNCl3)
IV. –C=N–O– 
The fulminate group (example HONC and Hg(ONC)2)
V. –OClO3 and –OClO4 
The chlorate and perchlorate groups respectively, connected to organics/inorganics (e.g. KClO3, FOClO3)
VI. –O–O– and –O3– 
The peroxide and ozonide groups respectively, connected to organics/inorganics (e.g. acetone peroxide, butanone peroxide)
VII. –C≡C M+ 
The acetylide group with its metal derivatives
VIII. A metal atom connected by an unstable bond to the carbon of certain organic radicals 
(for example, organic compounds of mercury, thallium, and lead).

The term explosophore has been used more frequently after its use in books such as Organic Chemistry of Explosives by J. Agrawal and R. Hodgson (2007).


  1. ^ Pletz, V. J. Gen. Chem. (U.S.S.R.) 5, 173 (1935)
  2. ^ Handrick, G.R., Lothrop, W.C. Chem. Rev., 1949, 44 (3) p 419-445
  3. ^ Warey, Philip. B. ed. New Research on Hazardous Materials, Nova Science Publishers, 2007
  4. ^ http://www.explosci.com/explosophore/