The elusive “black” structure of nitrogen helps solve the chemical mystery of that element
The elusive “black” structure of nitrogen helps solve the chemical mystery of that element

The elusive “black” structure of nitrogen helps solve the chemical mystery of that element

The elusive “black” structure of nitrogen helps solve the chemical mystery of that element

Light chemical elements of the periodic table, which are under high pressure, pay attention to nitrogen. While oxygen, boron and carbon are able to change their structure in accordance with a certain scheme, nitrogen does not do this, which is considered an anomaly. A recent study showed scientists that nitrogen is an ordinary element that just needs extreme pressure, after which it enters a “wave” and behaves just like other light elements.

The periodic table has a special ordering, the elements are arranged in ascending order, uniting in families. They are not random, but consist of elements with similar properties, repeating at certain intervals. At the top of the table, the elements have the least amount of protons and less mass.


In some families, during the creation of alternative physical forms of allotropes under pressure, structural properties are manifested that are comparable to heavy elements when excessive pressure is not required. Allotropes have no interests, that they can exist in the same state. Ozone and oxygen are allotropes in a gaseous state, boron also has allotropes.

All follow the same family pattern. The researchers from the University of Bayreuth in Germany have developed a new method for measuring high pressure nitrogen. They compressed nitrogen in a diamond anvil, where the pressure was 1.4 million times higher than atmospheric pressure, and heated the nitrogen with a laser to a temperature of 3726 degrees.

The process was carried out in stages, one of which was the use of synchrotron single-crystal X-ray diffraction through a particle accelerator. That helped to study and identify the material in which it was located, and to perform additional spectroscopic measurements of Raman scattering and calculations of the density functional theory.


The formed crystalline structure of nitrogen was a new discovery for the scientists. That was not structurally similar to the nitrogen element, but was an allotrope. For example, an allotrop of phosphorus is called black phosphorus, but also allotropes of arsenic and antimony are called black arsenic and black antimony.

Surprisingly, the new nitrogen structure fits these characteristics, although nitrogen is an exceptional element, but follows the same golden rule of the periodic table as carbon and oxygen.