Chemically-bound xenon in fibrous silica†
High-level quantum chemical calculations reported here predict the existence and remarkable stability, of chemically-bound xenon atoms in fibrous silica. The results may support the suggestion of Sanloup and coworkers that chemically-bound xenon and silica account for the problem of “missing xenon” (by a factor of 20!) from the atmospheres of Earth and Mars. So far, the host silica was assumed to be quartz, which is in contradiction with theory. The xenon-fibrous silica molecule is computed to be stable well beyond room temperature. The calculated Raman spectra of the species agree well with the main features of the experiments by Sanloup et al. The results predict computationally the existence of a new family of noble-gas containing materials. The fibrous silica species are finite molecules, their laboratory preparation should be feasible, and potential applications are possible.