10-Year-Old Discovers New Molecule That Could Improve Energy Storage

by Timon Singh

When this author was 10 years old, he was playing with Micro Machines and generally being a nuisance. He definitely wasn’t discovering a new molecule called tetranitratoxycarbon that can be used for anything from energy storage to creating explosives. However, that is exactly what 10 year old Clara L. Lazen has done.

A computational study of novel nitratoxycarbon, nitritocarbonyl, and nitrate compounds and their potential as high energy materials, Computational and Theoretical Chemistry, rw zoellner, Robert W. Zoellner, Clara L. Lazen, Kenneth M. Boehr, Computational and Theoretical Chemistry, tetranitratoxycarbon, tetranitratoxycarbon molecule, tetranitratoxycarbon clara lazen, tetranitratoxycarbon 10 year old discovery, tetranitratoxycarbon moleculeAfter fiddling with one of those molecular construction sets (seen in the photo above) and rearranging the atoms used in nitroglycerin, Clara presented her new creation to her fifth-grade science teacher Kenneth Boehr. We imagine Mr. Boehr was simultaneously incredulous and proud that his pupil had created a new energy storing molecule in his class.

Instead of merely dismissing the child and claiming credit for the creation, Mr Boehr sent a photo of the tetranitratoxycarbon molecule model to Robert Zoellner, a chemist at Humboldt State University for analysis.  The result? Young Clara’s work has been officially recognized as a feasible molecule.

But what exactly is tetranitratoxycarbon?

Well, it is a completely synthetic molecule and cannot be found in nature. It must be created in a lab, which will take time and effort, but on paper it has the potential to both store energy and expel it.

Because of her discovery, Clara and Kenneth Boehr are both listed as co-authors on the research paper published by Zoellner about the molecule. If you wish to know more, it has been published in Computational and Theoretical Chemistry. Warning: It’s not exactly light-reading.

Congratulations Clara, we are sure a future in science awaits you.

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