Nitrogen Triiodide Is So Unstable That It Explodes When A Mosquito Lands On It

Nitrogen Triiodide (NI3) is a highly unstable contact explosive compound that explodes even when a relatively small quantities of energy is applied.

contact explosive nitrogen triiodide volatile

Nitrogen Triiodide (NI3) is a highly unstable inorganic compound that explodes when disturbed. Because of its ultra sensitive contact explosive characteristics, this substance will explode even when we apply a relatively small quantities of energy, whether it be heat, light, sound and physical pressure such as light touch or when tiny insects like ants, mosquitoes land on it.

The video, Slow Motion Contact Explosive – Nitrogen Triiodide, released by the Royal Institution demonstrates the volatility of Nitrogen Triiodide.

Nitrogen Triiodide (NI3) is basically prepared by reacting iodine crystals with ammonia at low temperatures. It comprises of one nitrogen atom and three iodine atoms. These iodine atoms lie in close proximity to each other and cluster around one side of a nitrogen atom. Since they repel each other in small space, it causes bond strain, making the molecule explosively unstable.


  1. Well, perhaps it’s gremlins? 🙂 This is fascinating, and I know this is an inorganic compound, but the way it flashes and explodes looks like a lot of life going on there, at some level we can’t understand. There’s also a metaphor in there about all those atoms repelling each other in too small a space – it can happen with people too, in a workplace or in a family, etc. Always interesting posts!

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