A FUTURE FOR ONC?
As it fits many of the military's requirements for an explosive octanitrocubane has great potential. With its high density and high energy molecular structure it may prove to be the most powerful non-nuclear explosive yet. It's very safe to handle - more shock insensitive than most common explosives and its by-products won't damage the environment.
The problem is the expense of producing ONC from cubane. The ester used is approximately $40 000 per kg - far too expensive to be considered a reasonable starting material for an explosive needed in large quantities. The search for a more economic synthesis of ONC continues and suggestions include, for example, the tetramerization of dinitroacetylene.
Some of the many discoveries made during the synthesis of the nitrocubanes have the potential to aid the manufacture of new biologically active materials. The cubane molecule for example, is similar in size to some compounds derived from benzene, from which many pharmaceuticals and many practical compounds are derived. Other cubanes with differing functional groups are currently undergoing tests in the fight against the AIDS virus, bone marrow cancer, and Parkinson's disease.