Crystallography365

Blogging a crystal structure a day in 2014

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Helen Maynard-Casely

Less than mellow yellow – the structure of picric acid

What does it look like?

Image generated by the Mercury crystal structure visualisation software http://www.ccdc.cam.ac.uk/Solutions/CSDSystem/Pages/Mercury.aspx

Image generated by the Mercury crystal structure visualisation software http://www.ccdc.cam.ac.uk/Solutions/CSDSystem/Pages/Mercury.aspx

What is it?

Picric acid was first synthesised by Johann Glauber, is a yellow materials, and the most acidic of phenol compounds. However, in contrast to its parent molecule, picric acid has formed the basis of a number of explosives used throughout history. It formed the basis of materials such as Melinite and Lyddite developed by the French and British respectively in the late 1800s. To ensure safe storage picric acid should be kept wet – and when dried out has caused a few alarms, such as this event in Sydney late last year.

Where did the structure come from?

The structure of picric acid in #5000146 in the Crystallography Open Database

Tags: molecular   explosive   organic