Chemistry Blog



Jan 19

Nitrogen Triiodide Explosion [Photo]

by mitch | Categories: fun, general chemistry | (39722 Views)

A gorgeous photo of pressure sensitive nitrogen triiodide exploding at 1000 m/s is shown below.

NI3 Explosion
by vastibadastoy from flickr photostream

From vastib

The photo was taken in the dark with the camera’s shutter open, and a flash triggered by a pressure sensitive detector.


Apparently this was submitted as part of a manuscript to the Journal of Chemical Education for an undergraduate lab demo measuring how fast the explosion propagates through the material. Unfortunately, it was rejected as too dangerous.

The decomposition reaction is…
$$! 8\text{NI}_3\text{NH}_3 \rightarrow 5\text{N}_2 + 6\text{NH}_4\text{I} + 9\text{I}_2 $$

Chemical details on nitrogen triiodide can be found from the MOTM page contribution by Simon Cotton: Nitrogen Triiodide

Note 1: Yes, that is Latex embedded into the blog post.
Note 2: Originally from the Chemistry Reddit: Nitrogen Triiodide Photo



  1. psi*psi

    Beautiful! Looks so nice and fluffy. 🙂

  2. LLoyd Garrick

    I made this stuff in high school a long time ago. The method is so easy it is wiser not to advertise it. A pea sized chunk will detonate upon the slightest disturbance giving a bang about like a .357 Magnum. Fun to play with, but too sensitive to be useful. Musta been a seriously good photo setup to capture that!

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