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Karl O. Christe

Research Professor of Chemistry
Inorganic Chemistry

B.S., 1957, M.S., 1960, Ph.D., 1961, Technical University of Stuttgart
Office: ACB 206
Phone: (213) 740-3552
Fax: (213) 740-6679
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Research Focus


Our interests are very broad and range from very basic studies to applied research of academic, Government or industrial interest. We are particularly interested in high energy density materials (HEDM), inorganic main group chemistry, polynitrogen and nitroamine chemistry, high-oxygen carriers, energetic ionic liquids, chemistry at the limits of oxidation and coordination, and the synthesis and characterization of novel carbocation and fluorocarbon compounds. Our work exploits the synergism of theory and synthesis and greatly benefits from close collaborations with numerous groups of theoreticians. The main goal of our research is to advance the state of the art and strive for spectacular breakthroughs, rather than settling for small incremental improvements.

Typical examples of breakthrough achievements, achieved by us in the past, include the first syntheses of novel cations, such as NF4+ [1] or ClF6+ [2], which are derived from non-existing parent molecules, the first chemical synthesis of elemental fluorine [3] which according to the textbooks was impossible, the synthesis of XeF5- and IF52- [4] which constitute the first examples of pentagonal planar AX5 species, the development of a synthesis for truly anhydrous soluble "naked" fluoride ion [5] which has led to a renaissance in high coordination number chemistry [6], the synthesis of N5+ [7] which is the only stable polynitrogen species in more than 100 years and only the second known man-made polynitrogen ion that can be prepared on a macroscopic scale, the spectroscopic identification of the cyclic N5- anion [8], the synthesis of the first oxygen-balanced energetic ionic liquids for liquid monopropellant applications [9], the preparation and characterization of over 40 new polyazides [10] and their combination with energetic counter-ions as for example in [N5]+[B(N3)4)]- [11], the synthesis of NO2)CN, a stable ultra-high energy-density compound [12] and FN(NO2))2) [13], the bulk synthesis of the CF3)- anion [14], and the developments of the first quantitative scales for oxidizer strengths [15] and Lewis acidities [16].

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Selected publications


  1. "The Tetrafluoronitronium (V) Cation, NF4+," K. O. Christe, J.P. Guertin, and A.E. Pavlath, Inorg. Nucl. Chem. Letters, 2, 83 (1966).
  2. "The Hexafluorochlorine (VII) Cation, ClF6+," K. O. Christe, Inorg. Nucl. Chem. Letters, 8, 741 (1972).
  3. "Chemical Synthesis of Elemental Fluorine," K. O. Christe, Inorg. Chem., 25, 3721 (1986).
  4. ((a) "The Pentafluoroxenate (IV) Anion, XeF5-; the First Example of a Pentagonal Planar AX5 Species," K. O. Christe, E. C. Curtis, H.P. Mercier, J. C. P. Sanders, G. J. Schrobilgen, and D. Dixon, J. Am. Chem. Soc., 113, 3351 (1991); (b) "Pentagonal Planar AX5 Species: Synthesis and Characterization of the Iodine (III) Pentafluoride Dianion, IF52-," K. O. Christe, W.W. Wilson, G.W. Drake, D.A. Dixon, J.A. Boatz, and R. Z. Gnann, J. Am. Chem. Soc., 120, 4711 (1998).
  5. "Syntheses, Properties, and Structures of Anhydrous Tetramethylammonium Fluoride and its 1:1 Adduct with trans-3-Amino-2-Butene Nitrile," K. O. Christe, W. W. Wilson, R. D. Wilson, R. Bau, and J. Feng, J. Am. Chem. Soc., 112, 7619 (1990).
  6. "Heptacoordinated Main-Group Fluorides and Oxyfluorides," K. O. Christe, E.C. Curtis, D.A. Dixon, H.P.A. Mercier, J.C.P. Sanders, G.J. Schrobilgen, and W.W. Wilson, Chapter 5 in "Inorganic Fluorine Chemistry Toward the 21st Century" ACS Symposium Series 555 (1994).
  7. "N5+: A Novel Homoleptic Polynitrogen Ion as a High Energy Density Material," K. O. Christe, W. W. Wilson, J. A. Sheehy, and J. A. Boatz, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., 38, 2004 (1999).
  8. "Experimental Detection of the Pentaazacyclopentadienide (Pentazolate) Anion, cyclo-N5-," A. Vij, J. G. Pavlovich, W. Wilson, V. Vij, and K. O. Christe, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., 41, 3051 (2002).
  9. "Oxygen Balanced Energetic Ionic Liquid," C. J. Bigler Jones, R. Haiges, T. Schroer, and K. O. Christe. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., 45, 4981 (2006).
  10. "Preparation of the First Manganese(III) and Manganese(IV) Azides," R. Haiges, R. J. Buszek, J. A. Boatz, and K. O. Christe, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., 53, 8200 (2014), and references cited therein.
  11. "New High Energy Density Materials. Synthesis and Characterization of N5+P(N3)6-, N5+B(N3)4-, N5+HF2-.nHF, N5+BF4-, N5+PF6-, and N5+SO3F-," R. Haiges, S. Schneider, T. Schroer, and K. O. Christe, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., 43, 4919 (2004).
  12. "Nitryl Cyanide, NCNO2," M. Rahm, G. Belanger-Chabot, R. Haiges, and K. O. Christe, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., 53, 6893 (2014).
  13. "Synthesis and Characterization of Fluorodinitroamine, FN(NO2)2," K. O. Christe, W. W. Wilson, G. Belanger-Chabot, R. Haiges, J. A. Boatz, M. Rahm, G. K. Surya Prakash, T. Saal, and M. Hopfinger, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., 53, published on line (2014).
  14. "Long-Lived Trifluoromethanide Anion: A Key Intermediate in Nucleophilic Trifluoromethylations," G. K. Surya Prakash, F. Wang, Z. Zhang, R. Haiges, M. Rahm, K. O. Christe, T. Mathew, and G. A. Olah, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., 53, 11575 (2014).
  15. "A Quantitative Scale for the Oxidizing Strength of Oxidative Fluorinators," K. O. Christe, and D. A. Dixon, J. Am. Chem. Soc., 114, 2978 (1992).
  16. "On a quantitative scale for Lewis acidity and recent progress in polynitrogen chemistry," K. O. Christe, D. A. Dixon, D. McLemore, W. W. Wilson, J. A. Sheehy, J. A. Boatz, J. Fluorine Chem., 101, 151 (2000).

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