Calcium nitride

Calcium nitride is the inorganic compound with the chemical formula Ca3N2.[1] It exists in various forms (isomorphs), α-calcium nitride being more commonly encountered.

Calcium nitride

Unit cell containing 31 nitride ions (red) and 48 calcium ions (white). Each nitride is surrounded by six calcium, and each calcium by four nitride ions.
IUPAC name
Calcium nitride
Other names
tricalcium dinitride
3D model (JSmol)
ECHA InfoCard 100.031.435
EC Number
  • 234-592-9
  • InChI=1S/3Ca.2N
  • InChI=1S/3Ca.2N/q3*+2;2*-3
  • InChI=1S/3Ca.2N/q;;+2;2*-1
  • [Ca]=N[Ca]N=[Ca]
  • [Ca+2].[Ca+2].[Ca+2].[N-3].[N-3]
  • [Ca]=[N-].[Ca+2].[N-]=[Ca]
Molar mass 148.248 g·mol−1
Appearance red-brown crystalline solid
Density 2.670 g/cm3
2.63 g/cm3 (17 °C)
Melting point 1,195 °C (2,183 °F; 1,468 K)
Cubic, cI80
Ia-3, No. 206
Related compounds
Other cations
Beryllium nitride
Magnesium nitride
Except where otherwise noted, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C [77 °F], 100 kPa).
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Infobox references


α-Calcium nitride adopts an anti-bixbyite structure, similar to Mn2O3, except that the positions of the ions are reversed: calcium (Ca2+) take the oxide (O2−) positions and nitride ions (N3−) the manganese (Mn3+). In this structure, Ca2+ occupies tetrahedral sites, and the nitride centres occupy two different types of octahedral sites.[2]

Synthesis and reactions

Calcium nitride is formed along with the oxide, CaO, when calcium burns in air. It can be produced by direct reaction of the elements:[3]

3 Ca + N2 → Ca3N2

It reacts with water or even the moisture in air to give ammonia and calcium hydroxide:[4]

Ca3N2 + 6 H2O → 3 Ca(OH)2 + 2 NH3

Like sodium oxide, calcium nitride absorbs hydrogen above 350 °C:

Ca3N2 + 2 H2 → 2 CaNH + CaH2

General references

  • Greenwood, Norman N.; Earnshaw, Alan (1997). Chemistry of the Elements (2nd ed.). Butterworth-Heinemann. ISBN 978-0-08-037941-8.


  1. Eagleson, M. (1994). Concise Encyclopedia Chemistry. Walter de Gruyter. p. 160. ISBN 3-11-011451-8. Calcium nitride.
  2. Wells, A.F. (1984) Structural Inorganic Chemistry, Oxford: Clarendon Press. ISBN 0-19-855370-6.
  3. P. Ehrlich “Calcium, Strontium, Barium Nitrides Ca3N2, Sr3N2, Ba3N2” in Handbook of Preparative Inorganic Chemistry, 2nd Ed. Edited by G. Brauer, Academic Press, 1963, NY. Vol. 1. p. 940-1.
  4. Heyns, A. (1998). "The Vibrational Spectra and Decomposition of α-Calcium Nitride (α-Ca3N2) and Magnesium Nitride (Mg3N2)". Journal of Solid State Chemistry. 137 (1): 33–41. Bibcode:1998JSSCh.137...33H. doi:10.1006/jssc.1997.7672.
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