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Explosive antimony is an allotrope of the chemical element antimony that is so sensitive to shocks that it explodes when scratched or subjected to sudden heating.[1][2][3][4][5][6] The allotrope was first described in 1855.[7][8]

Chemists form the allotrope through electrolysis of a concentrated solution of antimony trichloride in hydrochloric acid, which forms an amorphous glass.[1][2][3][4] This glass contains significant amounts of halogen impurity at its boundaries.

When it explodes the allotrope releases 24 calories (100 J) of energy per gram.[9] White fumes of antimony trichloride are produced and the elemental antimony reverts to its metallic form.


  1. ^ a b Allan C. Topp (1939). Studies on Explosive Antimony and Antimony Tetrachloride Solutions. Dalhousie University. Retrieved 2016-11-21.
  2. ^ a b N.C. Norman (1997). Chemistry of Arsenic, Antimony and Bismuth. Springer Science & Business Media. p. 50. ISBN 9780751403893. Retrieved 2016-11-21. Another possible allotrope, known as explosive antimony, has been reported which is produced by electrolysis of antimony chloride, iodide or bromide and is believed to be in a strained amorphous state.
  3. ^ a b Otfried Madelung (2012). Semiconductors: Data Handbook. Springer Science & Business Media. p. 408. ISBN 9783642188657. Retrieved 2016-11-21. Explosive Antimony is only metastable and transforms into metallic antimony during mechanical stress and heating. Explosive Antimony is probably not an allotropic form, but a mixed polymer.
  4. ^ a b Egon Wiberg, Nils Wiberg (2001). Inorganic Chemistry. Academic Press. p. 758. ISBN 9780123526519. Retrieved 2016-11-21.
  5. ^ Bernard Martel (2004). Chemical Risk Analysis: A Practical Handbook. Butterworth-Heinemann. ISBN 9780080529042. Retrieved 2016-11-21.
  6. ^ James H. Walton Jr. (July 1913). "Suspended changes in Nature". Popular Science. p. 31. Retrieved 2016-11-21. We are indebted to the investigations of Professor Cohen for a more striking example of a metastable metal, that of the " explosive " antimony. By passing an electric current through a solution of antimony chloride this metal may be deposited in the form of a thick metallic coating.
  7. ^ C.C. Coffin, Stuart Johnston (1934-10-01). "Studies on Explosive Antimony. I. The Microscopy of Polished Surfaces". Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. JSTOR 2935608.
  8. ^ C.C. Coffin (1935-10-15). "Studies on Explosive Antimony. II. Its Structure, Electrical Conductivity, and Rate of Crystallization" (PDF). Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. pp. 47–63. Retrieved 2016-11-21. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help); Invalid |deadurl=No (help)
  9. ^ F. M. Aymerich, A. Delunas (1975-09-16). "On the explosive semiconductor-semimetal transition of antimony". Physica Status Solidi. doi:10.1002/pssa.2210310118. The energy released by this transition, is measured to be 24 cal per gram of amorphous Sb and is shown to be related to a variation of the mass density and of the conductivity behaviour of Sb going from one configuration to the other. A simple theoretical model is outlined which quite satisfactory gives the gross features of the free-energy diagram of the above transition, although more deep investigation is needed to account for the energy balance of it.