On the Crystal Chemistry of Inorganic Nitrides: Crystal-Chemical Parameters and Opportunities in the Exploration of Their Compositional Space

2020-02-20T10:08:18Z (GMT) by Olivier Charles Gagné
The scarcity of nitrogen in Earth’s crust, combined with challenging synthesis, have made inorganic nitrides a relatively-unexplored class of compounds compared to their naturally-abundant oxide counterparts. To facilitate exploration of their compositional space via a priori modeling, and to help a posteriori structure verification not limited to inferring the oxidation state of redox-active cations, we derive a suite of bond-valence parameters and Lewis-acid strength values for 76 cations observed bonding to N3-, and further outline a baseline statistical knowledge of bond lengths for these compounds. We examine structural and electronic effects responsible for the functional properties and anomalous bonding behavior of inorganic nitrides, and identify promising venues for exploring uncharted compositional spaces beyond the reach of high-throughput computational methods. We find that many mechanisms of bond-length variation ubiquitous to oxide and oxysalt compounds (e.g., lone-pair stereoactivity, the Jahn-Teller and pseudo Jahn-Teller effects) are similarly pervasive in inorganic nitrides, and are occasionally observed to result in greater distortion magnitude than their oxide counterparts. We identify inorganic nitrides with multiply-bonded metal ions as a promising venue in heterogeneous catalysis, e.g. in the development of a post-Haber-Bosch process proceeding at milder reaction conditions, thus representing further opportunity in the thriving exploration of the functional properties of this emerging class of materials.