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Tetranitratoxycarbon 3D stick.png
     Carbon     Oxygen     Nitrogen
3D model (JSmol)
Molar mass 308.071 g·mol−1
Except where otherwise noted, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C [77 °F], 100 kPa).
Infobox references

Tetranitratoxycarbon, systematic name tetrakis(nitratoxycarbon)methane,[1] is a hypothetical molecule that was proposed by Clara Lazen, a fifth-grader in Kansas City, Missouri, who conceived of its structure and built a model in 2012. She is credited as co-author of a scientific paper on the molecule, which uses computational chemistry to predict that the molecule could actually exist.


Science teacher Kenneth Boehr was using ball-and-stick models to represent simple molecules during a fifth-grade class, when ten-year-old Clara Lazen[2] assembled a complex model and asked whether it was a real molecule.[3] It is unclear if Lazen randomly or deliberately assembled the model of the molecule.[4]

Unsure if the molecule existed, Boehr sent a picture of the model to a chemist friend, Robert Zoellner at Humboldt State University.[2][3] Zoellner checked the molecule against the Chemical Abstracts database[2] and confirmed that Lazen's model was of a structural type that had not been reported before.[3]

Zoellner wrote a paper on the molecule, published in Computational and Theoretical Chemistry, crediting Lazen and Boehr as co-authors.[1]


Tetranitratoxycarbon consists of oxygen, nitrogen, and carbon, with molecular structure C(CO3N)4. As an oxygen-rich compound of carbon and nitrogen, it is predicted to have explosive properties,[2] but to be too thermally unstable for practical use.[5] The density is predicted to be 1.87 g/cm3.[6]

The nitratoxycarbon functional group itself has yet to be observed in any chemical compound. Computational chemistry studies indicate that it is one of the least stable isomeric structures of the available atoms.[1] As such this functional group is likely to remain purely hypothetical and no method for its synthesis has yet been proposed. The all-carbon analog (bicyclo[1.1.1]pentane) and other elemental variations of this ring structure have been synthesized.

Possible reactions[edit]

Several reactions of tetranitratoxycarbon have been investigated computationally. For example, one possible equation for its decomposition is:

C(CO3N)4 → 5 CO2 + O2 + 2 N2

that is predicted to have a standard enthalpy change of −1326 kJ/mol based on bond-energy calculation methods. Another potential reaction is its combustion in the presence of oxygen:

C(CO3N)4 + O2 → 5 CO2 + 2 NO2 + N2

that is predicted to have a standard enthalpy change of −1144 kJ/mol.


  1. ^ a b c Zoellner, Robert W.; Lazen, Clara L.; Boehr, Kenneth M. (2012). "A computational study of novel nitratoxycarbon, nitritocarbonyl, and nitrate compounds and their potential as high energy materials". Computational and Theoretical Chemistry. 979: 33–37. doi:10.1016/j.comptc.2011.10.011.
  2. ^ a b c d "Professor Confirms, Publishes 10-year-old's New Molecule". Humboldt State Now. Humboldt University. Retrieved 3 February 2012.
  3. ^ a b c "10-Year-Old Accidentally Creates New Molecule in Science Class". Popular Science. Retrieved 3 February 2012.
  4. ^ "Clara Lazen, Ten-Year-Old Fifth Grader, Discovers New Molecule (VIDEO)". Huffington Post. Oath, Inc. 3 February 2012. Retrieved 28 February 2018.
  5. ^ "Ten Year Old "discovers" explosive". Explosci.com Now. Explosci. Retrieved 20 March 2012.[dead link]
  6. ^ Buszek, Robert J.; Lindsay, C. Michael; Boatz, Jerry A. (February 2013). "Tetrakis(nitratoxycarbon)methane (Née CLL-1) as a Potential Explosive Ingredient: a Theoretical Study". Propellants, Explosives, Pyrotechnics. 38 (1): 9–13. doi:10.1002/prep.201200156.

Extra reading[edit]

G, Calvo, Luis; Rodolfo, Pumachagua, (2015). "Evaluación teórica de nuevos derivados nitratoxicarbono de tetraedrano". Revista de la Sociedad Química del Perú (in Spanish). 81 (1). ISSN 1810-634X.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link) open access Tetrahedrane derivatives.