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Tetranitratoxycarbon model.

Tetranitratoxycarbon, more formally known as tetrakis(nitratoxycarbon)methane,[1] is a hypothetically-possible molecule, not yet synthesised, and unknown to science until ten-year-old Clara Lazen (a fifth-grader in Kansas City, Missouri) assembled a model of it in 2012. She is credited as co-author of a scientific paper on the molecule.


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]

Unsure of the answer, Boehr sent a picture of the model to a chemist friend, Robert Zoellner, a Professor in Chemistry[2] at Humboldt State University.[3] Zoellner checked the molecule against the 'Chemical Abstracts' database[2] and confirmed that Lazen's had a unique and previously unrecognized structure.[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, similar to nitroglycerin, it is predicted to have explosive properties,[2] but to be too thermally unstable for practical use.[4]

Possible reactions[edit]

Tetranitratoxycarbon (since it has not yet been synthesized) has many possible reactions that it may undergo. For example, one possible equation for its decomposition is: C(CO3N)4 → 5CO2 + O2 + 2N2 with the standard enthalpy change equaling −1326 kJ/mol using the bond-energy method. Another potential reaction lies in its combustion with atmospheric oxygen, with the equation: C(CO3N)4 + O2 → 5CO2 + 2NO2 + N2 with the standard enthalpy change equaling −1144 kJ/mol.


  1. ^ a b Zoellner, Robert W.; Clara L. Lazen; Kenneth M. Boehr (2012-01-01). "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. ISSN 2210-271X. Retrieved 2012-02-03. 
  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. ^ "Ten Year Old "discovers" explosive". Explosci.com Now. Explosci. Retrieved 20 March 2012.