When a feather drops on it, or a mosquito lands on top of nitrogen triiodide – Booom! – an instantaneous dark purple or violet explosion occurs. It’s because nitrogen triiodide is so unstable that it detonates even when it’s barely disturbed.

Three iodine atoms cluster around one side of a nitrogen atom. Being crowded around one end causes something known as bond strain as the atoms repel each other in a small space. Hence that the molecule is susceptible to falling apart, lets say, quite explosively.

NO3 in 3d
NO3 visualized in 3D – Source: Wikipedia

You should definitely take a look at the awesome slow-mo video of triiodide blasting off, created by the blokes over at the Royal Institution.



 Enjoy, and don’t forget to like and share 🙂


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