NF3 vs. NH3

What's the Difference?

NF3 and NH3 are both chemical compounds that contain nitrogen and hydrogen atoms. However, they differ in terms of their chemical properties and applications. NH3, also known as ammonia, is a colorless gas with a pungent odor and is commonly used in household cleaning products and as a fertilizer. It is highly soluble in water and forms a basic solution. On the other hand, NF3, or nitrogen trifluoride, is a colorless gas with a faint odor and is primarily used in the electronics industry as a cleaning agent for plasma etching processes. It is less reactive than NH3 and has a lower boiling point. Overall, while both compounds contain nitrogen and hydrogen, they have distinct properties and applications.


Chemical FormulaNF3NH3
Molecular Weight71.001 g/mol17.031 g/mol
Number of Atoms44
Bond TypeCovalentCovalent
Boiling Point-129.1 °C-33.34 °C
Melting Point-206.8 °C-77.73 °C
OdorSlightly sweetPungent
UsesSemiconductor manufacturing, cleaning agentFertilizer, refrigerant, cleaning agent

Further Detail


When it comes to understanding the properties and characteristics of different chemical compounds, it is essential to compare and contrast their attributes. In this article, we will explore and analyze the properties of two important compounds: NF3 (nitrogen trifluoride) and NH3 (ammonia). Both compounds contain nitrogen and are of significant interest in various fields, including industrial applications, environmental impact, and chemical reactivity. By examining their physical and chemical properties, we can gain a deeper understanding of their similarities and differences.

Physical Properties

Starting with the physical properties, NF3 and NH3 exhibit distinct differences. NF3 is a colorless, odorless gas at room temperature and pressure. It has a boiling point of -129.1°C and a melting point of -206.8°C. On the other hand, NH3 is a colorless gas with a pungent odor. It has a boiling point of -33.34°C and a melting point of -77.73°C. While both compounds are gases at room temperature, their boiling and melting points vary significantly, indicating differences in intermolecular forces and molecular structures.

Chemical Properties

When it comes to chemical properties, NF3 and NH3 also exhibit contrasting behaviors. NF3 is a stable compound that does not readily react with most substances under normal conditions. It is a powerful oxidizer and can react with certain metals, such as lithium, to form metal fluorides. Additionally, NF3 is used as a cleaning agent in the semiconductor industry due to its ability to remove oxide layers. On the other hand, NH3 is a highly reactive compound. It acts as a weak base and readily forms ammonium salts when reacting with acids. NH3 is also used as a fertilizer due to its ability to provide essential nitrogen to plants.


Considering solubility, both NF3 and NH3 exhibit different behaviors when dissolved in water. NF3 is sparingly soluble in water, meaning it dissolves only to a limited extent. This limited solubility is due to the weak intermolecular forces between NF3 molecules and water molecules. On the contrary, NH3 is highly soluble in water, forming a strong hydrogen bond with water molecules. This solubility is crucial for its use as a cleaning agent and as a source of nitrogen in fertilizers.

Environmental Impact

Examining the environmental impact of NF3 and NH3 is of great importance, especially considering their widespread use. NF3 is a potent greenhouse gas with a high global warming potential. It has a long atmospheric lifetime, contributing to the depletion of the ozone layer. On the other hand, NH3 is not considered a greenhouse gas. However, excessive release of NH3 into the environment can lead to eutrophication, a process where excessive nutrients in water bodies cause harmful algal blooms and oxygen depletion, negatively impacting aquatic ecosystems.

Industrial Applications

Both NF3 and NH3 find various applications in different industries. NF3 is primarily used in the semiconductor industry as a cleaning agent for removing oxide layers from silicon wafers. It is also used in the production of flat-panel displays and solar cells. On the other hand, NH3 has diverse applications. It is widely used as a fertilizer in agriculture to provide essential nitrogen to crops. NH3 is also utilized in the production of various chemicals, including plastics, dyes, and pharmaceuticals. Additionally, it serves as a refrigerant in industrial cooling systems.


Considering toxicity, both NF3 and NH3 can pose risks to human health and the environment. NF3 is a relatively stable compound and is not considered highly toxic. However, prolonged exposure to high concentrations of NF3 can cause respiratory irritation and damage to the lungs. On the other hand, NH3 is highly toxic and can cause severe irritation to the respiratory system, eyes, and skin. Inhalation of high concentrations of NH3 can be fatal. Therefore, proper safety measures and ventilation are crucial when handling both compounds.


In conclusion, NF3 and NH3 are two distinct compounds with different physical and chemical properties. NF3 is a stable gas with limited reactivity, primarily used in the semiconductor industry. NH3, on the other hand, is a highly reactive gas, acting as a weak base and finding applications in agriculture, chemical production, and refrigeration. While NF3 is sparingly soluble in water, NH3 exhibits high solubility due to hydrogen bonding. Both compounds have environmental impacts, with NF3 contributing to global warming and NH3 causing eutrophication. Understanding the attributes of NF3 and NH3 is crucial for their safe handling and utilization in various industries.

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