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Decomposition of Nitrogen Triiodide

Hazards

CAUTION! When dry, nitrogen triiodide is extremely unstable and can detonate unexpectedly. a slight touch or even movement of air can set off the loud explosion. In contrast, wet nitrogen triiodide is relatively safe to handle.

When dry, nitrogen triiodide is extremely unstable and can detonate unexpectedly. This demo produces a loud explosion. You may wish to cover your ears. Ammonia and iodine cause burns. Avoid contact.

Materials

  • 50 mL beaker
  • stirring rod
  • spatula
  • filter papers
  • feather mounted on a long pointer
  • ringstand with three iron rings

Procedure

To detonate, touch the bottom circle with a feather mounted on a long pole. The explosion will detonate the other two portions.

Discussion

The decomposition of nitrogen triiodide is expressed in the following balanced equation:

\( \ce{ 8NH3 + NI3 -> 5N2 + 6NH4I + 9I2 } \)

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