Periodic Table > Nitrogen
 

Terminology


Allotropes
Some elements exist in several different structural forms, these are called allotropes.


For more information on Murray Robertson’s image see Uses/Interesting Facts below.

 

Fact Box Terminology


Group
Elements appear in columns or ‘groups’ in the periodic table. Members of a group typically have similar properties and electron configurations in their outer shell.


Period
Elements are laid out into rows or ‘periods’ so that similar chemical behaviour is observed in columns.


Block
Elements are organised into blocks by the orbital type in which the outer electrons are found. These blocks are named for the characteristic spectra they produce: sharp, principal, diffuse, and fundamental.


Atomic Number
The number of protons in the nucleus.


Atomic Radius/non -bonded (Å)
based on Van der Waals forces (where several isotopes exist, a value is presented for the most prevalent isotope). These values were calculated using a multitude of methods including crystallographic data, gas kinetic collision cross sections, critical densities, liquid state properties, for more details please refer to the CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics.


Electron Configuration
The arrangements of electrons above the last (closed shell) noble gas.


Isotopes
Elements are defined by the number of protons in its centre (nucleus), whilst the number of neutrons present can vary. The variations in the number of neutrons will create elements of different mass which are known as isotopes.


Melting Point (oC)
The temperature at which the solid-liquid phase change occurs.


Melting Point (K)
The temperature at which the solid-liquid phase change occurs.


Melting Point (oF)
The temperature at which the solid-liquid phase change occurs.


Boiling Point (oC)
The temperature at which the liquid-gas phase change occurs.


Boiling Point (K)
The temperature at which the liquid-gas phase change occurs.


Boiling Point (oF)
The temperature at which the liquid-gas phase change occurs.


Sublimation
Elements that do not possess a liquid phase at atmospheric pressure (1 atm) are described as going through a sublimation process.


Density (kgm-3)
Density is the weight of a substance that would fill 1 m3 (at 298 K unless otherwise stated).


Relative Atomic Mass
The mass of an atom relative to that of Carbon-12. This is approximately the sum of the number of protons and neutrons in the nucleus. Where more than one isotope exists the value given is the abundance weighted average.


Key Isotopes (% abundance)
An element must by definition have a fixed number of protons in its nucleus, and as such has a fixed atomic number, however variants of an element can exist with differing numbers of neutrons, and hence a different atomic masses (e.g. 12C has 6 protons and 6 neutrons and 13C has 6 protons and 7 neutrons).


CAS number
The Chemical Abstracts Service registry number is a unique identifier of a particular chemical, designed to prevent confusion arising from different languages and naming systems (where several isotopes exist, a value is presented for the most prevalent isotope).

Fact Box

 
Group 15  Melting point -210 oC, -346 oF, 63.15 K 
Period Boiling point -195.795 oC, -320.431 oF, 77.355 K 
Block Density (kg m-3) 1035 (4 K) 
Atomic number Relative atomic mass 14.007  
State at room temperature Gas  Key isotopes 14
Electron configuration [He] 2s22p3  CAS number 7727-37-9 
ChemSpider ID 20473555 ChemSpider is a free chemical structure database
 

Interesting Facts terminology


Image Explanation

Murray Robertson is the artist behind the images which make up Visual Elements. This is where the artist explains his interpretation of the element and the science behind the picture.


Natural Abundance

Where this element is most commonly found in nature.


Biological Roles

The elements role within the body of humans, animals and plants. Also functionality in medical advancements both today and years ago.


Appearance

The description of the element in its natural form.

Uses / Interesting Facts

 
Image explanation

The wheat sheaf symbol and lightening reflect the importance of the “nitrogen cycle” in nature and the element’s importance to plant growth, particularly in the form of fertilisers.

Appearance

A colourless, odourless gas that makes up 78% of the air by volume.

Source

Uses

About 50 million tonnes of nitrogen are extracted every year by the Haber Process, mainly for the manufacture of fertilisers but also for making plastics, dyes and explosives. Large amounts of gas are also used by the electronics industry, which uses the gas as a blanketing medium during production of such components as transistors, diodes etc. Large quantities of nitrogen are used in annealing stainless steel and other steel mill products. Liquid nitrogen is used as a refrigerant for storing sperm, eggs and other cells for medical research and reproductive technology etc., for the preservation of food products and for their transportation.  Liquid nitrogen is also used in missile work and by the oil industry to build up great pressures in wells to force crude oil upwards.

Biological role

Nitrogen is cycled naturally by living organisms (The nitrogen cycle). It is taken up in solution by green plants and algae as nitrate to build up the bases needed for constructing DNA and RNA and for all amino acids which are the building blocks of proteins. Non-photosynthesising life forms, such as animals, obtain their nitrogen by consuming other living things and digesting the proteins and DNA into their constituent bases and amino acids to be reformed for their own use, or excreting it mostly as urea. Microbes in the soil convert the nitrogen compounds back to nitrates for the plants to re-use, hence the value of returning animal excrement to the fields. The nitrate supply is replenished by nitrifying bacteria (eg associated with the roots of leguminous plants such as clover and beans) which are able to ‘fix’ molecular nitrogen directly from the atmosphere. Crop yields can be greatly enhanced by adding additional ‘fixed’ nitrogen to the soil in the form of chemical fertilisers manufactured from Haber Process ammonia. If used carelessly the fertiliser can be leached off the soil by rain before it is taken up by the crops, causing rivers and lakes to become eutrophic – rapid algal growth blocks out light preventing further photosynthesis. The dissolved oxygen soon gets used up and the lake dies.

Natural abundance

Nitrogen makes up 78% of the air, by volume. From this source it can be obtained by liquefaction and fractional distillation. In compound form it is found in all living things and hence also in coal and to a lesser extent in other fossil fuels.

 
Atomic Data Terminology

Atomic radius/non -bonded (Å)
Based on Van der Waals forces (where several isotopes exist, a value is presented for the most prevalent isotope). These values were calculated using a multitude of methods including crystallographic data, gas kinetic collision cross sections, critical densities, liquid state properties,for more details please refer to the CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics.


Electron affinity (kJ mol-1)
The energy released when an additional electron is attached to the neutral atom and a negative ion is formed (where several isotopes exist, a value is presented for the most prevalent isotope). *


Electronegativity (Pauling scale)
The degree to which an atom attracts electrons towards itself, expressed on a relative scale as a function bond dissociation energies, Ed in eV. χA - χB =(eV)-1/2sqrt(Ed(AB)-[Ed(AA)+Ed(BB)]/2), with χH set as 2.2 (where several isotopes exist, a value is presented for the most prevalent isotope).


1st Ionisation energy (kJ mol-1)
The minimum energy required to remove an electron from a neutral atom in its ground state (where several isotopes exist, a value is presented for the most prevalent isotope).


Covalent radius (Å)
The size of the atom within a covalent bond, given for typical oxidation number and coordination (where several isotopes exist, a value is presented for the most prevalent isotope). ***

Atomic Data

 
Atomic radius, non-bonded (Å) 1.550 Covalent radius (Å) 0.71
Electron affinity (kJ mol-1) Not stable Electronegativity
(Pauling scale)
3.040
Ionisation energies
(kJ mol-1)
 
1st
1402.330
2nd
2856.089
3rd
4578.152
4th
7475.051
5th
9444.961
6th
53266.790
7th
64360.105
8th
-
 
Bonding and Enthalpies terminology

Covalent Bonds
The strengths of several common covalent bonds.

Bonding / Enthalpies

 
Covalent bonds
N–N  158  kJ mol -1 N=N  410  kJ mol -1 N≡N  945.4  kJ mol -1
N–O  214  kJ mol -1 N=O  587  kJ mol -1 N≡P  582  kJ mol -1
C–N  286  kJ mol -1 C=N  615  kJ mol -1 C≡N  887  kJ mol -1
H–N  391  kJ mol -1  
 

Mining/Sourcing Information

Data for this section of the data page has been provided by the British Geological Survey. To review the full report please click here or please look at their website here.


Key for numbers generated


Governance indicators

1 (low) = 0 to 2

2 (medium-low) = 3 to 4

3 (medium) = 5 to 6

4 (medium-high) = 7 to 8

5 (high) = 9


Reserve base distribution

1 (low) = 0 to 30 %

2 (medium-low) = 30 to 45 %

3 (medium) = 45 to 60 %

4 (medium-high) = 60 to 75 %

5 (high) = 75 %

(Where data are unavailable an arbitrary score of 2 was allocated. For example, Be, As, Na, S, In, Cl, Ca and Ge are allocated a score of 2 since reserve base information is unavailable. Reserve base data are also unavailable for coal; however, reserve data for 2008 are available from the Energy Information Administration (EIA).)


Production Concentration

1 (low) = 0 to 30 %

2 (medium-low) = 30 to 45 %

3 (medium) = 45 to 60 %

4 (medium-high) = 60 to 75 %

5 (high) = 75 %


Crustal Abundance

1 (low) = 100 to 1000 ppm

2 (medium-low) =10 to 100 ppm

3 (medium) = 1 to 10 ppm

4 (medium-high) = 0.1 to 1 ppm

5 (high) = 0.1 ppm

(Where data are unavailable an arbitrary score of 2 was allocated. For example, He is allocated a score of 2 since crustal abundance data is unavailable.)


Explanations for terminology


Crustal Abundance (ppm)

The abundance of an element in the Earth's crust in parts-per-million (ppm) i.e. The number of atoms of this element per 1 million atoms of crust.


Sourced

The country with the largest reserve base.


Reserve Base Distribution

This is a measure of the spread of future supplies, recording the percentage of a known resource likely to be available in the intermediate future (reserve base) located in the top three countries.


Production Concentrations

This reports the percentage of an element produced in the top three countries. The higher the value, the larger risk there is to supply.


Total Governance Factor

The World Bank produces a global percentile rank of political stability. The scoring system is given below, and the values for all three production countries were summed.


Relative Supply Risk Index

The Crustal Abundance, Reserve Base Distribution, Production Concentration and Governance Factor scores are summed and then divided by 2, to provide an overall Relative Supply Risk Index.

Supply Risk

 
Scarcity factor Unknown
Country with largest reserve base Unknown
Crustal abundance (ppm) Unknown
Leading producer Unknown
Reserve base distribution (%) n/a
Production concentration (%) Unknown
Total governance factor(production) Unknown
Top 3 countries (mined)
  • Unknown
Top 3 countries (production)
  • Unknown
 

Oxidation states/ Isotopes


Key for Isotopes


Half Life
  y years
  d days
  h hours
  m minutes
  s seconds
Mode of decay
  α alpha particle emission
  β negative beta (electron) emission
  β+ positron emission
  EC orbital electron capture
  sf spontaneous fission
  ββ double beta emission
  ECEC double orbital electron capture

Terminology


Common Oxidation states
The oxidation state of an atom is a measure of the degree of oxidation of an atom. It is defined as being the charge that an atom would have if all bonds were ionic. Free atoms have an oxidation state of 0, and the sum of oxidation numbers within a substance must equal the overall charge.


Important Oxidation states
The most common oxidation states of an element in its compounds.


Isotopes
Elements are defined by the number of protons in its centre (nucleus), whilst the number of neutrons present can vary. The variations in the number of neutrons will create elements of different mass which are known as isotopes.

Oxidation States / Isotopes

 
Common oxidation states 5, 4, 3, 2, -3
Isotopes Isotope Atomic mass Natural abundance (%) Half life Mode of decay
  14N 14.003 99.636
  15N 15 0.364
 

Pressure and Temperature - Advanced Terminology


Molar Heat Capacity (J mol-1 K-1)

Molar heat capacity is the energy required to heat a mole of a substance by 1 K.


Young's modulus (GPa)

Young's modulus is a measure of the stiffness of a substance, that is, it provides a measure of how difficult it is to extend a material, with a value given by the ratio of tensile strength to tensile strain.


Shear modulus (GPa)

The shear modulus of a material is a measure of how difficult it is to deform a material, and is given by the ratio of the shear stress to the shear strain.


Bulk modulus (GPa)

The bulk modulus is a measure of how difficult to compress a substance. Given by the ratio of the pressure on a body to the fractional decrease in volume.


Vapour Pressure (Pa)

Vapour pressure is the measure of the propensity of a substance to evaporate. It is defined as the equilibrium pressure exerted by the gas produced above a substance in a closed system.

Pressure / Temperature - Advanced

 
Molar heat capacity
(J mol-1 K-1)
29.124 Young's modulus (GPa) Unknown
Shear modulus (GPa) Unknown Bulk modulus (GPa) Unknown
Vapour pressure  
Temperature (K)
400 600 800 1000 1200 1400 1600 1800 2000 2200 2400
Pressure (Pa)
- - - - - - - - - - -
  Help text not available for this section currently

History

Nitrogen in the form of ammonium chloride, NH4Cl, was known to the alchemists as sal ammonia. It was manufactured in Egypt by heating a mixture of dung, salt and urine. Nitrogen gas itself was obtained in the 1760s by both Henry Cavendish and Joseph Priestley and they did this by removing the oxygen from air. They noted it extinguished a lighted candle and that a mouse breathing it would soon die. Neither man deduced that it was an element. The first person to suggest this was a young student Daniel Rutherford in his doctorate thesis of September 1772 at Edinburgh, Scotland.

  Help text not available for this section currently

Podcasts

Listen to Nitrogen Podcast
Transcript :

Chemistry in its Element - Nitrogen


(Promo)

 

You're listening to Chemistry in its element brought to you by Chemistry World, the magazine of the Royal Society of Chemistry.

 

(End promo)

 

Chris Smith

Hello! This week, we're blowing up airbags, asphyxiating animals and getting to the bottom of gun powder because Cambridge chemist, Peter Wothers has been probing the history of Nitrogen.

 

Peter Wothers

Nitrogen gas makes up about 80% of the air we breathe. It's by far the most abundant element in its group in the periodic table and yet it is the last member of its family to be discovered. The other elements in its group Phosphorus, Arsenic, Antimony and Bismuth, had all been discovered, used and abused at least a 100 years before Nitrogen was known about. It wasn't really until the 18th Century that people focussed their attention on the chemistry of the air and the preparation properties of different gases. We can only really make sense of the discovery of Nitrogen by also noting the discovery of some of these other gases. Robert Boyle noted in 1670 that when acid was added to Iron filings, the mixture grew very hot and belched up copious and stinking fumes.   So inflammable it was that upon the approach of a lighted candle to it, it would readily enough take fire and burn with a bluish and somewhat greenish flame. Hydrogen was more carefully prepared and collected by the brilliant but reclusive millionaire scientist, Henry Cavendish about a 100 years later. Cavendish called the gas inflammable air from the metals in recognition of this most striking property. He also studied the gas, we know call, Carbon dioxide, which had first been prepared by the Scottish chemist, Joseph Black in the 1750s. Black called Carbon dioxide, fixed air, since it was thought to be locked up or fixed in certain minerals such as limestone. It could be released from its stony prison by the action of heat or acids. Carbon dioxide was also known by the name, mephitic air, the word mephitic meaning noxious or poisonous.   This name obviously came from its property of destroying life, since it rapidly suffocates any animals immersed in it. This is where the confusion with Nitrogen gas begins.   Since pure Nitrogen gas is also suffocating to animals.   If the Oxygen in an enclosed quantity of air is used up, either by burning a candle in it or by confining an animal, most of the Oxygen is converted to Carbon dioxide gas which mixes with the Nitrogen gas present in the air. This noxious mixture no longer supports life and so was called mephitic. The crucial experiment in the discovery of Nitrogen was when it was realized that there are at least two different kinds of suffocating gases in this mephitic air. This was done by passing the mixture of gases through a solution of alkali, which absorbed the Carbon dioxide but left behind the Nitrogen gas. Cavendish prepared Nitrogen gas by this means. He passed air back and forth over heated charcoal which converted the Oxygen in the air to Carbon dioxide. The Carbon dioxide was then dissolved in alkali leaving behind the inert Nitrogen gas, which he correctly observed was slightly less dense than common air. Unfortunately, Cavendish didn't publish his findings. He just communicated them in a letter to fellow scientist, Joseph Priestley, one of the discoverers of Oxygen gas. Consequently, the discovery of Nitrogen is usually accredited to one of Joseph Black's students, the Scottish scientist, Daniel Rutherford, who's also the uncle of the novelist and poet, Sir. Walter Scott. Rutherford published his findings, which was similar to those of Cavendish in his doctoral thesis entitled, "An Inaugural Dissertation on the Air called Fixed or Mephitic" in 1772. So what about the name, Nitrogen? In the late 1780s, chemical nomenclature underwent a major revolution under the guidance of the French chemist, Antoine Lavoisier. It was he and his colleagues, who suggested many of the names we still use today including the word Hydrogen, which comes from the Greek meaning water former and Oxygen from the Greek for acid producer, since Lavoisier mistakenly thought that Oxygen was the key component of all acids. However, in his list of the then known elements, Lavoisier included the term azote or azotic gas for what we now call Nitrogen. This again stems from Greek words, this time meaning the absence of life, once again focussing on its mephitic quality. It was not long before it was pointed out that there are many mephitic gases, in fact no gas other than oxygen can support life. The name Nitrogen was therefore proposed from the observation, again first made by Cavendish that if the gases sparked with Oxygen, and then the resulting Nitrogen dioxide gases passed through alkali, nitre, otherwise known as saltpetre or potassium nitrate is formed. The word Nitrogen therefore means nitre former. The derivatives of the word, azote still survive today. The compound used to explosively fill car air bags with gas is sodium azide, a compound of just Sodium and Nitrogen. When triggered this compound explosively decomposes freeing the Nitrogen gas, which inflates the bags, far from destroying life, this azotic compound has been responsible for saving thousands.

 

Chris Smith

Cambridge University's Peter Wothers telling the story of the discovery of Nitrogen. Next time on Chemistry in its element, how chemists like Mendeleev got to groups with both the known and the unknown.

 

Mark Peplow

While other scientists had tried to create ways of ordering the known elements, Mendeleev created the system that could predict the existence of elements, not yet discovered. When he presented the table to the world in 1869, it contained four prominent gaps. One of these was just below Manganese and Mendeleev predicted that element with atomic weight 43 would be found to fill that gap, but it was not until 1937 that a group of Italian scientists finally found the missing element, which they named Technetium 

 

Chris Smith

And you can hear Mark Peplow telling Technetium's tale in next week's edition of Chemistry in its element. I'm Chris Smith, thank you for listening.   See you next time.

 

(Promo)

 

Chemistry in its elementis brought to you by the Royal Society of Chemistry and produced by thenakedscientists dot com. There's more information and other episodes of Chemistry in its element on our web site at chemistryworld dot org forward slash elements.

 

(End promo)

  Help text not available for this section currently
  Help Text

Resources

Description :
In the beaker are test-tubes containing different gases - carbon dioxide, dinitrogen oxide, oxygen, chlorine and hydrogen. You may remove a test-tube only once and when you do so you must identify th...
Description :
Some reactions of nitrogen dioxide
Description :
Diffusion of gases – ammonia and hydrogen chloride
Description :
Diffusion of gases – a safer alternative to bromine
Description :
Explore chemistry & industrial processes with 15 tutorials, all available on the Alchemy website.
Description :
Increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere cause a rise in global temperature. This worksheet looks at some data from other greenhouse gases to see if they have the same effect.
 

Terms & Conditions


Images © Murray Robertson 1999-2011
Text © The Royal Society of Chemistry 1999-2011

Welcome to "A Visual Interpretation of The Table of Elements", the most striking version of the periodic table on the web. This Site has been carefully prepared for your visit, and we ask you to honour and agree to the following terms and conditions when using this Site.


Copyright of and ownership in the Images reside with Murray Robertson. The RSC has been granted the sole and exclusive right and licence to produce, publish and further license the Images.


The RSC maintains this Site for your information, education, communication, and personal entertainment. You may browse, download or print out one copy of the material displayed on the Site for your personal, non-commercial, non-public use, but you must retain all copyright and other proprietary notices contained on the materials. You may not further copy, alter, distribute or otherwise use any of the materials from this Site without the advance, written consent of the RSC. The images may not be posted on any website, shared in any disc library, image storage mechanism, network system or similar arrangement. Pornographic, defamatory, libellous, scandalous, fraudulent, immoral, infringing or otherwise unlawful use of the Images is, of course, prohibited.


If you wish to use the Images in a manner not permitted by these terms and conditions please contact the Publishing Services Department by email. If you are in any doubt, please ask.


Commercial use of the Images will be charged at a rate based on the particular use, prices on application. In such cases we would ask you to sign a Visual Elements licence agreement, tailored to the specific use you propose.


The RSC makes no representations whatsoever about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this Site for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without any representation or endorsement made and warranty of any kind, whether expressed or implied, including but not limited to the implied warranties of fitness for a particular purpose, non-infringement, compatibility, security and accuracy.


In no event shall the RSC be liable for any damages including, without limitation, indirect or consequential damages, or any damages whatsoever arising from use or loss of use, data or profits, whether in action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the material available from this Site. Nor shall the RSC be in any event liable for any damage to your computer equipment or software which may occur on account of your access to or use of the Site, or your downloading of materials, data, text, software, or images from the Site, whether caused by a virus, bug or otherwise.


We hope that you enjoy your visit to this Site. We welcome your feedback.

References

 
Images:  Visual Elements © Murray Robertson 2011
Mining and Sourcing data:  British Geological Survey – natural environment research council.
Text:  John Emsley Nature’s Building Blocks: An A-Z Guide to the Elements, Oxford University Press, 2nd Edition, 2011.
Additional information for platinum, gold, neodymium and dysprosium obtained from Material Value Consultancy Ltd www.matvalue.com
Data: CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics, CRC Press, 92nd Edition, 2011.
G. W. C. Kaye and T. H. Laby Tables of Physical and Chemical Constants, Longman, 16th Edition, 1995.
Members of the RSC can access these books through our library.