Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Ivan I. Oleynik, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Brian Space, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Matthias Batzill, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Sagar Pandit, Ph.D.


Ammonium Azide, Energetic Materials, Hypervelocity Collisions, Polymeric Nitrogen, Thermodynamics, Thermo-Physical Properties


This dissertation is concerned with the understanding of physico-chemical properties of energetic materials (EMs). Recently, a substantial amount of work has been directed towards calculations of equations of state and structural changes upon compression of existing EMs, as well as elucidating the underlying chemistry of initiation in detonating EMs. This work contributes to this effort by 1) predicting equations of state and thermo-physical properties of EMs, 2) predicting new phases of novel EMs, and 3) examining the initial stages of chemistry that result in detonation in EMs. The motivation for the first thrust, is to provide thermodynamic properties as input parameters for mesoscale modeling. Such properties are urgently sought for a wide range of temperatures and pressures, and are often difficult or even impossible to obtain from experiment. However, thermo-physical properties are obtained by calculating structural properties and vibration spectra using density function theory and employing the quasi-harmonic approximation. The second thrust is directed towards the prediction and investigation of novel polymorphs of known azide compounds to identify precursor materials for synthesis of polymeric nitrogen EMs. Structural searches are used to identify new polymorphs, while theoretical Raman spectra for these polymorphs are calculated to aid experimentalists in identifying the appearance of these azide compounds under high pressure. The final thrust is concerned with elucidating the initial chemical events that lead to detonation through hypervelocity collision simulations using first-principles molecular dynamics. The chemical mechanisms of initiation are determined from the atomic trajectory data, while heats of reaction are calculated to quantify energy trends of chemical transformations.