Nitrogen is the first element of group 15 of the periodic table and has the electronic configuration 1s2 2s2 2p3. Like oxygen and hydrogen, nitrogen exists in its elemental forms as a diatomic molecule. Nitrogen forms a variety of compounds in all oxidation states ranging from -3 to +5.
The common oxidation states are -3, +3 and +5. Molecular nitrogen comprises 78% by volume of the atmosphere. Dinitrogen is a colourless, odourless, tasteless gas. It has two stable isotopes, 14N and 15N. It is non toxic. Dinitrogen is chemically unreactive a at ordinary temperature. At higher temperatures dinitrogen directly combines with some metals and nonmetals to form ionic and covalent nitrides. Some examples are

6Li + N2 --------> 2Li3N
3Mg + N2 --------> Mg3N2

In laboratory, dinitrogen is prepared by treating an aqueous solution of ammonium chloride with sodium nitrite.

NH4Cl + NaNO2 -------> N2 + 2H2O + NaCl

Uses of dinitrogen

Dinitrogen is mainly used in the manufacture of ammonia and industrial nitrogen chemicals (Eg:- calcium cyanide). It is also finds use where the presence of an inert atmosphere is required. Liquid nitrogen is used as a refrigerant to preserve biological materials.

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