Nitrogen triiodide was first synthesised in the early part of the 1830's when an Austrian scientist was attempting to create a new method of sterilisation using iodine. The method was to be used for babies nappies in hospitals.
The urine of babies contains a proportion of ammonia (approx. 7% w/v).
The ammonia in the urine reacted with the iodine tincture to form small black pieces of what looked like mud. The scientist touched a number of these the day after applying the iodine and in doing so, lost the top of his finger!.
A large amount of study was put into the classification of NI3 in the late 1890s with considerable interest being placed by the British and Germans as detonator for explosives. It was decided that while small quantities of the solid would release large amounts of energy, the compound itself would be too unstable to be used as even slight movement could detonate the solid.
With the advent of X-Ray techniques, more was discovered about this compound. Previously, it had been assumed that the solid was just that, NI3. However, the X-Ray patterns showed that the solid was held in a planar matrix with ammonia molecules on the end of each iodine. IR confirmed the planar structure and showed that the molecule had C2v symmetry1.
1 Jander, J. Recent Chemistry & Structure Investigation of Nitrogen triiodide, tribromide, trichloride, and related compounds. Adv. Inorg. Chem. Radiochem. 1976, 19, 2 (rev)
With all this knowledge then, what is the purpose of this project?
As the title suggests, the project is to determine the energy released by the NI3 when under an organised matrix - in this case, an agar made with 0.880 S.G. ammonia and to determine the stability of the substance in this form and to postulate on if, in the organised form, the substance would be a suitable detonator for explosives.
"Side effects" from this project are a direct determination of the energy of combustion and a standard set of results for gel times with varied amounts of ammonia to water.
A full list of people who have helped me are included at the end of this project.