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The crystal structures of the low-temperature and high-pressure polymorphs of nitric acid

Allan, D.R. and Marshall, W.G. and Francis, D.J. and Oswald, I.D.H. and Pulham, C.R. and Spanswick, C. (2010) The crystal structures of the low-temperature and high-pressure polymorphs of nitric acid. Dalton Transactions, 39 (15). pp. 3736-3743. ISSN 1477-9234

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A new high-pressure phase of pure nitric acid (HNO3) has been characterised at 1.6 GPa at room temperature by high-pressure neutron powder and X-ray single-crystal diffraction techniques. This is the first crystalline phase obtained upon compression of liquid nitric acid at room temperature and appears to be the stable phase up to pressures of at least 4 GPa. The crystal structure of this new phase shows some similarities to that of the low-temperature phase of nitric acid at ambient pressure, which has been redetermined as part of this study. Both structures share a herringbone packing of hydrogen-bonded molecular catemers, although the presence of disorder within the hydrogen bonds within one of the catemers of the low-temperature phase makes its structure comparatively more complex.