Nitrogen compounds: nitrogen trichloride

nitrogen symbol icon

The nitrogen in nitrogen trichloride formally is in the oxidation state 3.

Crystal structure of nitrogen trichloride

Nitrogen trichloride

  • Formula as often written: NCl3
  • Hill system formula: Cl3N1
  • CAS registry number: [10025-85-1]
  • Formula weight: 120.365
  • Class: chloride


  • nitrogen trichloride
  • nitrogen(III) chloride
  • nitrogen chloride

Physical properties

  • Colour: yellow
  • Appearance: liquid, danger!: explosive
  • Melting point: -40°C
  • Boiling point: 71°C
  • Density: 1650 kg m-3


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Element analysis

Element percentages for the elements in nitrogen trichloride
Element %
Cl 88.36
N 11.64


(NH4)2SO4 + 3Cl2 → NCl3 + 3HCl + NH4SO4

Nitrogen(III) trichloride (explosive!) may be made, with care, in the laboratory by the reaction between ammonium sulphate and chlorine gas. The product is extractable into an organic layer such as carbon tetrachloride before filtering and drying the orgasnic fraction. It is unwise to concentrate the product further than about 20% because of the risk of explosion.

Solid state structure

  • Geometry of nitrogen:
  • Prototypical structure:

Crystal structure of nitrogen trichloride

Isotope pattern

What follows is the calculated isotope pattern for the NCl3 unit with the most intense ion set to 100%.

Formula: N1Cl3

mass  %
119 100.0 __________________________________________________
120 0.4
121 95.9 ________________________________________________
122 0.4
123 30.7 _______________
124 0.1
125 3.3 __
126 0.0


The data on these compounds pages are assembled and adapted from the primary literature and several other sources including the following.

  • R.T. Sanderson in Chemical Periodicity, Reinhold, New York, USA, 1960.
  • N.N. Greenwood and A. Earnshaw in Chemistry of the Elements, 2nd edition, Butterworth, UK, 1997.
  • F.A. Cotton, G. Wilkinson, C.A. Murillo, and M. Bochmann, in Advanced Inorganic Chemistry, John Wiley & Sons, 1999.
  • A.F. Trotman-Dickenson, (ed.) in Comprehensive Inorganic Chemistry, Pergamon, Oxford, UK, 1973.
  • R.W.G. Wyckoff, in Crystal Structures, volume 1, Interscience, John Wiley & Sons, 1963.
  • A.R.West in Basic solid state chemistry Chemistry, John Wiley & Sons, 1999.
  • A.F. Wells in Structural inorganic chemistry, 4th edition, Oxford, UK, 1975.
  • J.D.H. Donnay, (ed.) in Crystal data determinative tables, ACA monograph number 5, American Crystallographic Association, USA, 1963.
  • D.R. Lide, (ed.) in Chemical Rubber Company handbook of chemistry and physics, CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida, USA, 77th edition, 1996.
  • J.W. Mellor in A comprehensive treatise on inorganic and theoretical chemistry, volumes 1-16, Longmans, London, UK, 1922-1937.
  • J.E. Macintyre (ed.) in Dictionary of inorganic compounds, volumes 1-3, Chapman & Hall, London, UK, 1992.

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nitrogen atomic number