At high pressures, autoionization – along with polymerization and metallization – is one of the responses of simple molecular systems to a rise in electron density. Nitrosonium nitrate (NO+NO3−), known for this property, has attracted a large interest in recent decades and was reported to be synthesized at high pressure and high temperature from a variety of nitrogen–oxygen precursors, such as N2O4, N2O and N2–O2 mixtures. However, its structure has not been determined unambiguously. Here, we present the first structure solution and refinement for nitrosonium nitrate on the basis of single-crystal X-ray diffraction at 7.0 and 37.0 GPa. The structure model (P21/m space group) contains the triple-bonded NO+ cation and the NO3− sp2-trigonal planar anion. Remarkably, crystal-chemical considerations and accompanying density-functional-theory calculations show that the oxygen atom of the NO+ unit is positively charged – a rare occurrence when in the presence of a less-electronegative element.
Laniel, D., Winkler, B., Koemets, E., Fedotenko, T., Chariton, S., Milman, V., Glazyrin, K., Prakapenka, V., Dubrovinsky, L. & Dubrovinskaia, N., Nitrosonium nitrate (NO+NO3−) structure solution using in situ single-crystal X-ray diffraction in a diamond anvil cell, (2021). IUCrJ 8. abstract