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In chemistry, ballotechnics are a class of materials that undergo a chemical reaction when quickly subjected to extreme pressures. These pressures are of the order of tens of thousands of atmospheres, and the chemical reactions are initiated by shock waves transmitted through the material. The reaction progresses with little change in volume, and are therefore not "explosive", i.e. the energy is released in the form of heat, rather than work.
While most of the research performed on ballotechnics originates from Sandia National Laboratories, the researchers involved primarily focus on chemical and simulation research, not nuclear weapons research. Other research has been performed at the Georgia Institute of Technology.
Rumour and Folklore
Ballotechnics has entered the realms of rumour, fantasy and folklore in recent times. Some media are suggesting that the mythical red mercury is a ballotechnic form of mercury and has the potential to radically simplify the production of nuclear explosives and to miniaturize them, and that terrorists were seeking to achieve the substance.
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