Sept. 18 (UPI) -- Researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University have discovered a new tri-anion particle, a type of particle with three more electrons than protons.
The new particle is extremely stable and its discovery apply to a variety of applications in the fields of physics and chemistry. The imbalance between electrons and protons on all other tri-anions makes the particle inherently unstable.
Tri-anion particles can often disrupt chemical reactions, as they refuse to take on any more electrons.
Researchers discovered the particle through a computer middle. Scientists built the model to prove a stable tri-anion particle was theoretical property.
"This is very important in this field, nobody has ever found such a tri-anion," Dr. Puru Jena, a physics professor at VCU, said in a news release. "Not only can it keep three electrons but the third electron is extremely stable. The guiding principles we have used in this paper will help with the design of other tri-anions. The question is: What do we do with this knowledge?"
Researchers detailed their discovery in a new paper, published this week in the journal Angewandte Chemie.
Scientists think the new particle could help engineers design a better aluminum ion battery, an alternative to the lithium ion battery. Aluminum is cheaper to source and less reactive than lithium.
Inside an aluminum ion batter, tri-anion particles would promote conductivity by moving from one electrode to the other. Similar particles with one or two extra electrons -- called mono-anions and di-anions -- already have a variety of industrial applications.
"Such particles are very important for many reasons. Number one, they make salts. Secondly, they are used in all kinds of chemical compounds, such as those in floor cleaners as oxidizing agents that kill bacteria," Jena said. "They are also used to purify air, which is a billion-dollar industry, and in mood enhancers, similar to what Prozac does. The potential uses are endless."