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Phosphorus Nitride, P3N5

Phosphorus Nitride or Triphosphorus Pentanitride, P3N5, appears to have this composition has been obtained by several methods:—

  1. By passing the vapour of phosphorus pentachloride in a current of nitrogen over heated magnesium nitride.
  2. The black substance produced by the reaction between liquid ammonia and phosphorus in a sealed tube gave an analysis which agreed fairly well with the foregoing composition.
  3. By saturating the pentasulphide, P2S5, with pure dry ammonia at ordinary temperatures, and heating the product in a current of ammonia at 850° C.


The product is described as a powder, white to dark red in colour according to the time of heating at 250° C. The density was 2.5. The nitride was tasteless, odourless, and chemically inactive at ordinary temperatures. The heat of formation (from white phosphorus) is given as +81.5 Cals. per mol. The molar heat of combustion was 474.7 Cals. (at constant pressure). The nitride dissociated into its elements in a vacuum at about 760° C. It was reduced to phosphorus and ammonia by hydrogen at a red heat, and burned when heated in oxygen or chlorine. It was hydrolysed by boiling water, thus

P3N5 + 12H2O = 3H3PO4 + 5NH3

It acted as a reducing agent on metallic oxides and was decomposed by many metals from 80° C. upwards, giving phosphides of the metals.

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