Black Nitrogen

The Discovery of Black Nitrogen

The simplicity of the Periodic Table concept hides quite a few interesting questions; often they are related to the differences between elements that are expected to be similar.

One such question was – until recently – why is the well-known structure of black phosphorus not observed for nitrogen?

The paper by a large international consortium from Germany, UK and Sweden. Authors include BIOVIA Ambassador Bjoern Winkler and BIOVIA’s Victor Milman.

They applied a variety of experimental and computational techniques to discover and characterize black nitrogen. The weakening and break-up of nitrogen double bonds under pressure generate numerous polymeric phases; here for the first time the black phosphorus structure was identified after heating to 4,000 K under pressure of 110 GPa.


What made this discovery possible?

BIOVIA Materials Studio, in particular its CASTEP quantum mechanical module, was essential to establish the stability of this phase relative to other polymers.

Details of the work appear in the paper “High-pressure polymeric nitrogen allotrope with the black phosphorus structure,” which appeared in Physical Review Letters.





Sir Martyn Poliakoff presented an exciting description of this discovery in his Periodic Table of Videos. The video already has nearly 500,000 views. Have a look yourself.'

Victor Milman

BIOVIA, Dassault Systèmes
Senior Director of the Quantum Mechanics and Nanotechnology R&D Team, Victor Milman, Ph.D., joined BIOVIA in 1994 and currently serves as a senior fellow and manager of quantum mechanics and nanotechnology research and development team. He graduated from Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology and received his doctorate in solid state physics from The Ukrainian Academy of Sciences. His subsequent research at the Institute of Metal Physics in Kiev focused on development of first principles techniques for study of lattice properties of inorganic crystals. This work continued at the Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge, where he was employed as a Research Associate for the SERC Collaborative Computational Project in electronic structure of solids. This activity in the group of Professor Heine and Professor Payne culminated in the public release of CASTEP, a revolutionary code for quantum-mechanical modelling of solids and surfaces. Milman further worked for a year as a visiting research fellow at the DOE Oak Ridge National Laboratory, concentrating on applications of CASTEP to physics of semiconductors, from modelling growth processes to study of extended defects. Victor Milman has 150 peer-reviewed publications with the h-index of 29, which reflects both productivity and high scientific impact of his research. His contributions include numerous conference presentations, co-supervision of doctorate students with University of Cambridge and with University College London, organization of meetings and symposia, regular refereeing of papers for the major journals in physics and chemistry.'

Latest posts by Victor Milman (see all)