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Sodium nitride

Synthesis

Sodium nitride can be synthesized in two different ways: by the thermal decomposition of NaNH or by the direct reaction of the elements.[2] The most common way to successfully synthesize sodium nitride has been done by Dieter Fischer & Martin Jansen and Grigori Vajenine using the latter method. The first way is to introduce desired ratios of Na and N in gas phase separately and depositing them in a vacuum chamber on a cooled substrate, which is then heated to room temperate (298 K) to crystallize.[1] The second method is to react elemental sodium with plasma activated nitrogen on a metal surface. This synthesis can be further facilitated by introducing liquid Na-K alloy to the compound with the excess liquid removed and washed with fresh alloy. The solid is then separated from the liquid using a centrifuge. However Vajenine’s method is very air-sensitive and can decompose and combust rapidly, unless exposed to a pure oxygen environment.

Characteristics

Sodium nitride can be of reddish brown or dark blue color depending on the synthesis of the compound due to intrinsic properties. It shows no signs of decomposition after several weeks when at room temperature. The compound does not have a melting point as it decomposes back into its elemental forms as demonstrated using mass spectrometry around 360 K.

 

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