A substance so sensitive it immediately explodes on the lightest touch

Boom! Even if a feather dropped on or a mosquito landed on or like a heavy piece of dust managed to get on top of nitrogen triiodide, an immediate dark purple explosion happens. It’s because nitrogen triiodide is so unstable that it detonates when it’s disturbed, even slightly. Here’s it firing off in slow motion.

Advertisement

Why does it do this? The Royal Institution explains:

Three iodine atoms cluster around one side of a nitrogen atom. Being crowded around one end causes something called bond strain as the atoms repel each other in a small space. The result is that the molecule is prone to falling apart, explosively.


SPLOID is delicious brain candy. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

DISCUSSION

synthozoic
synthozoic

So how is this made safely in the first place? I don’t mean how is it made chemically, I mean how is it made so when the compound is formed it doesn’t immediately disintegrate from browian motion, thermal vibration or just plain jostling of the beaker?

Just very slow and careful dehydration from an aqueous solution?