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Natural
nitrogen Nitrogen is the chemical element with the Symbol (chemistry), symbol N and atomic number 7. Nitrogen is a nonmetal and the lightest member of pnictogen, group 15 of the periodic table, often called the pnictogens. It is a common element in the ...

nitrogen
(7N) consists of two stable
isotope Isotopes are two or more types of atoms that have the same atomic number (number of protons in their nuclei) and position in the periodic table (and hence belong to the same chemical element), and that differ in nucleon numbers (mass numbe ...
s: the vast majority (99.6%) of naturally occurring nitrogen is
nitrogen-14 Natural nitrogen (7N) consists of two stable isotopes: the vast majority (99.6%) of naturally occurring nitrogen is nitrogen-14, with the remainder being nitrogen-15. Fourteen radioisotopes are also known, with atomic masses ranging from 10 to 25, ...

nitrogen-14
, with the remainder being
nitrogen-15 Natural nitrogen (7N) consists of two stable isotopes: the vast majority (99.6%) of naturally occurring nitrogen is nitrogen-14, with the remainder being nitrogen-15. Fourteen radioisotopes are also known, with atomic masses ranging from 10 to 25, ...

nitrogen-15
. Fourteen
radioisotope A radionuclide (radioactive nuclide, radioisotope or radioactive isotope) is a nuclide that has excess nuclear energy, making it unstable. This excess energy can be used in one of three ways: emitted from the nucleus as gamma radiation; transferr ...
s are also known, with
atomic mass The atomic mass (''m''a or ''m'') is the mass of an atom. Although the SI unit of mass is the kilogram (unit), kilogram (symbol: kg), atomic mass is often expressed in the non-SI unit dalton (unit), dalton (symbol: Da) – equivalently, unif ...
es ranging from 10 to 25, along with one
nuclear isomer A nuclear isomer is a metastable state of an atomic nucleus, in which one or more nucleons (protons or neutrons) occupy excited state, higher energy levels than in the ground state of the same nucleus. "Metastable" describes nuclei whose excited ...
, 11mN. All of these radioisotopes are short-lived, the longest-lived being nitrogen-13 with a half-life of . All of the others have half-lives below 7.15 seconds, with most of these being below 620 milliseconds. Most of the isotopes with
atomic mass number The mass number (symbol ''A'', from the German word ''Atomgewicht'' tomic weight, also called atomic mass number or nucleon number, is the total number of protons and neutrons (together known as nucleons) in an atomic nucleus. It is approxi ...
s below 14 decay to
isotopes of carbon Carbon (6C) has 15 known isotopes, from to , of which and are stable nuclide, stable. The longest-lived radionuclide, radioisotope is , with a half-life of years. This is also the only carbon radioisotope found in nature—trace quantities a ...
, while most of the isotopes with masses above 15 decay to
isotopes of oxygen There are three known stable isotopes of oxygen (8O): Oxygen-16, , Oxygen-17, , and Oxygen-18, . Radioactive isotope, Radioactive isotopes ranging from to have also been characterized, all short-lived. The longest-lived radioisotope is with a ...
. The shortest-lived known isotope is nitrogen-10, with a half-life of .


List of isotopes

, - , , style="text-align:right" , 7 , style="text-align:right" , 3 , , , p ?Decay mode shown is energetically allowed, but has not been experimentally observed to occur in this nuclide. , ? , 1−, 2− , , , - , , style="text-align:right" , 7 , style="text-align:right" , 4 , ,
[] , p , , 1/2+ , , , - , style="text-indent:1em" , , colspan="3" style="text-indent:2em" , , , p , , 1/2− , , , - , rowspan=2, , rowspan=2 style="text-align:right" , 7 , rowspan=2 style="text-align:right" , 5 , rowspan=2, , rowspan=2, ,
β+
β<sup>+</sup>
() , , rowspan=2, 1+ , rowspan=2, , rowspan=2, , - , β+α () , Immediately decays into two alpha particles for a net reaction of 12N → 3 4He + e+. , - , Used in
positron emission tomography Positron emission tomography (PET) is a functional imaging technique that uses radioactive substances known as radiotracers to visualize and measure changes in Metabolism, metabolic processes, and in other physiological activities including bl ...
, style="text-align:right" , 7 , style="text-align:right" , 6 , , , β+ , , 1/2− , , , - , One of the few stable odd-odd nuclei , style="text-align:right" , 7 , style="text-align:right" , 7 , , colspan=3 align=center, Stable , 1+ , ref name="Atomic Weight of Nitrogen"> , , - , style="text-indent:1em" , , colspan="3" style="text-indent:2em" , , , IT , , 0+ , , , - , , style="text-align:right" , 7 , style="text-align:right" , 8 , , colspan=3 align=center, Stable , 1/2− , ref name="Atomic Weight of Nitrogen" /> , , - , rowspan=2, , rowspan=2 style="text-align:right" , 7 , rowspan=2 style="text-align:right" , 9 , rowspan=2, , rowspan=2, , β () , , rowspan=2, 2− , rowspan=2, , rowspan=2, , - , βα () , , - , rowspan=2 style="text-indent:1em" , , rowspan=2 colspan="3" style="text-indent:2em" , , rowspan=2, , IT () , , rowspan=2, 0− , rowspan=2, , rowspan=2, , - , β () , , - , rowspan=3, 17N , rowspan=3 style="text-align:right" , 7 , rowspan=3 style="text-align:right" , 10 , rowspan=3, , rowspan=3, , βn () , , rowspan=3, 1/2− , rowspan=3, , rowspan=3, , - , β () , , - , βα () , , - , rowspan=4, , rowspan=4 style="text-align:right" , 7 , rowspan=4 style="text-align:right" , 11 , rowspan=4, , rowspan=4, , β () , , rowspan=4, 1− , rowspan=4, , rowspan=4, , - , βα () , , - , βn () , , - , β2n ? , ? , - , rowspan=2, , rowspan=2 style="text-align:right" , 7 , rowspan=2 style="text-align:right" , 12 , rowspan=2, , rowspan=2, , β () , , rowspan=2, 1/2− , rowspan=2, , rowspan=2, , - , βn () , , - , rowspan=3, , rowspan=3 style="text-align:right" , 7 , rowspan=3 style="text-align:right" , 13 , rowspan=3, , rowspan=3, , β () , , rowspan=3, (2−) , rowspan=3, , rowspan=3, , - , βn () , , - , β2n ? , ? , - , rowspan=3, , rowspan=3 style="text-align:right" , 7 , rowspan=3 style="text-align:right" , 14 , rowspan=3, , rowspan=3, , βn () , , rowspan=3, (1/2−) , rowspan=3, , rowspan=3, , - , β () , , - , β2n ? , ? , - , rowspan=3, , rowspan=3 style="text-align:right" , 7 , rowspan=3 style="text-align:right" , 15 , rowspan=3, , rowspan=3, , β () , , rowspan=3, 0−# , rowspan=3, , rowspan=3, , - , βn () , , - , β2n () , , - , rowspan=4, , rowspan=4 style="text-align:right" , 7 , rowspan=4 style="text-align:right" , 16 , rowspan=4, , rowspan=4, , β (> ) , , rowspan=4, 1/2−# , rowspan=4, , rowspan=4, , - , βn () , , - , β2n () , , - , β3n (< ) , , - , ?This isotope has not yet been observed; given data is inferred or estimated from periodic trends. , style="text-align:right" , 7 , style="text-align:right" , 17 , # , < , n ? , ? , , , , - , rowspan=3, ? , rowspan=3 style="text-align:right" , 7 , rowspan=3 style="text-align:right" , 18 , rowspan=3, # , rowspan=3, < , n ? , ? , rowspan=3, 1/2−# , rowspan=3, , rowspan=3, , - , 2n ? , ? , - , β ? , ?


Nitrogen-13

Nitrogen-13 and oxygen-15 are produced in the atmosphere when
gamma rays A gamma ray, also known as gamma radiation (symbol γ or \gamma), is a penetrating form of electromagnetic radiation In physics, electromagnetic radiation (EMR) consists of waves of the electromagnetic field, electromagnetic (EM) field, whi ...
(for example from
lightning Lightning is a naturally occurring electrostatic discharge during which two electric charge, electrically charged regions, both in the atmosphere or with one on the land, ground, temporarily neutralize themselves, causing the instantaneous ...
) knock neutrons out of nitrogen-14 and oxygen-16: :14N + γ → 13N + n :16O + γ → 15O + n The nitrogen-13 produced as a result decays with a half-life of to carbon-13, emitting a
positron The positron or antielectron is the antiparticle or the antimatter counterpart of the electron. It has an electric charge of +1 ''elementary charge, e'', a spin (physics), spin of 1/2 (the same as the electron), and the same Electron rest ...
. The positron quickly annihilates with an electron, producing two gamma rays of about . After a lightning bolt, this gamma radiation dies down with a half-life of ten minutes, but these low-energy gamma rays go only about 90 metres through the air on average, so they may only be detected for a minute or so as the "cloud" of 13N and 15O floats by, carried by the wind.


Nitrogen-14

Nitrogen-14 is one of two
stable A stable is a building in which livestock, especially horses, are kept. It most commonly means a building that is divided into separate Stall (livestock), stalls for individual animals and livestock. There are many different types of stables ...
( non-radioactive)
isotopes Isotopes are two or more types of atoms that have the same atomic number The atomic number or nuclear charge number (symbol ''Z'') of a chemical element is the charge number of an atomic nucleus. For ordinary nuclei, this is equal to the ...
of the
chemical element A chemical element is a species of atoms that have a given number of protons in their atomic nucleus, nuclei, including the pure Chemical substance, substance consisting only of that species. Unlike chemical compounds, chemical elements canno ...
nitrogen Nitrogen is the chemical element with the Symbol (chemistry), symbol N and atomic number 7. Nitrogen is a nonmetal and the lightest member of pnictogen, group 15 of the periodic table, often called the pnictogens. It is a common element in the ...

nitrogen
, which makes about 99.636% of natural nitrogen. Nitrogen-14 is one of the very few stable nuclides with both an odd number of protons and of neutrons (seven each) and is the only one to make up a majority of its element. Each proton or neutron contributes a
nuclear spin In atomic physics, the spin quantum number is a quantum number (designated ) which describes the intrinsic angular momentum (or spin angular momentum, or simply spin (physics), spin) of an electron or other Elementary particle, particle. The phra ...
of plus or minus
spin 1/2 In quantum mechanics, spin (physics), spin is an intrinsic property of all elementary particles. All known fermions, the particles that constitute ordinary matter, have a spin of . The spin number describes how many symmetrical facets a particle ...
, giving the nucleus a total magnetic
spin Spin or spinning most often refers to: * Spinning (textiles) Spinning is a twisting technique to form yarn from fiber Fiber or fibre (from la, fibra, links=no) is a #Natural fibers, natural or Fiber#Artificial fibers, artificial subst ...
of one. Like all elements heavier than
lithium Lithium (from el, λίθος, lithos, lit=stone) is a chemical element with the Symbol (chemistry), symbol Li and atomic number 3. It is a soft, silvery-white alkali metal. Under standard temperature and pressure, standard conditions, it ...
, the original source of nitrogen-14 and nitrogen-15 in the
Universe The universe is all of space and time and their contents, including planets, stars, galaxy, galaxies, and all other forms of matter and energy. The Big Bang theory is the prevailing cosmology, cosmological description of the development of ...
is believed to be
stellar nucleosynthesis Stellar nucleosynthesis is the creation (nucleosynthesis) of chemical element A chemical element is a species of atoms that have a given number of protons in their atomic nucleus, nuclei, including the pure Chemical substance, substance c ...
, where they are produced as part of the
carbon-nitrogen-oxygen cycle The CNO cycle (for carbon Carbon () is a chemical element with the chemical symbol, symbol C and atomic number 6. It is nonmetallic and tetravalence, tetravalent—its atom making four electrons available to form covalent bond, covalent che ...
. Nitrogen-14 is the source of naturally-occurring, radioactive,
carbon-14 Carbon-14, C-14, or radiocarbon, is a radioactive isotope of carbon with an atomic nucleus containing 6 protons and 8 neutrons. Its presence in organic materials is the basis of the radiocarbon dating method pioneered by Willard Libby and colle ...
. Some kinds of
cosmic radiation Cosmic rays are high-energy particles or clusters of particles (primarily represented by protons or atomic nuclei) that move through space at nearly the speed of light. They originate from the Sun, from outside of the Solar System in our ow ...
cause a
nuclear reaction In nuclear physics Nuclear physics is the field of physics that studies atomic nuclei and their constituents and interactions, in addition to the study of other forms of nuclear matter. Nuclear physics should not be confused with atomic phy ...
with nitrogen-14 in the upper atmosphere of the Earth, creating carbon-14, which decays back to nitrogen-14 with a
half-life Half-life (symbol ) is the time required for a quantity (of substance) to reduce to half of its initial value. The term is commonly used in nuclear physics to describe how quickly unstable atoms undergo radioactive decay or how long stable ato ...
of .


Nitrogen-15

Nitrogen-15 is a rare stable
isotope Isotopes are two or more types of atoms that have the same atomic number (number of protons in their nuclei) and position in the periodic table (and hence belong to the same chemical element), and that differ in nucleon numbers (mass numbe ...
of
nitrogen Nitrogen is the chemical element with the Symbol (chemistry), symbol N and atomic number 7. Nitrogen is a nonmetal and the lightest member of pnictogen, group 15 of the periodic table, often called the pnictogens. It is a common element in the ...

nitrogen
. Two sources of nitrogen-15 are the
positron emission Positron emission, beta plus decay, or β+ decay is a subtype of radioactive decay called beta decay, in which a proton inside a radionuclide nucleus is converted into a neutron while releasing a positron and an electron neutrino (). Positron emis ...
of
oxygen-15 There are three known stable isotope Isotopes are two or more types of atoms that have the same atomic number (number of protons in their nuclei) and position in the periodic table (and hence belong to the same chemical element), and th ...
and the
beta decay In nuclear physics, beta decay (β-decay) is a type of radioactive decay in which a beta particle (fast energetic electron or positron) is emitted from an atomic nucleus, transforming the original nuclide to an isobar (nuclide), isobar of that ...
of carbon-15. Nitrogen-15 presents one of the lowest thermal neutron capture cross sections of all isotopes. Nitrogen-15 is frequently used in NMR (
Nitrogen-15 NMR spectroscopy Nitrogen-15 nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (nitrogen-15 NMR spectroscopy, or just simply 15N NMR) is a version of nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy Nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, most commonly known as NMR spectroscopy o ...
). Unlike the more abundant nitrogen-14, which has an integer nuclear
spin Spin or spinning most often refers to: * Spinning (textiles) Spinning is a twisting technique to form yarn from fiber Fiber or fibre (from la, fibra, links=no) is a #Natural fibers, natural or Fiber#Artificial fibers, artificial subst ...
and thus a
quadrupole moment A quadrupole or quadrapole is one of a sequence of configurations of things like electric charge or current, or gravitational mass that can exist in ideal form, but it is usually just part of a multipole expansion of a more complex structure refl ...
, 15N has a fractional
nuclear spin In atomic physics, the spin quantum number is a quantum number (designated ) which describes the intrinsic angular momentum (or spin angular momentum, or simply spin (physics), spin) of an electron or other Elementary particle, particle. The phra ...
of one-half, which offers advantages for NMR such as narrower line width. Nitrogen-15 tracing is a technique used to study the
nitrogen cycle The nitrogen cycle is the biogeochemical cycle by which nitrogen is converted into multiple chemical forms as it circulates among atmosphere, atmospheric, terrestrial ecosystem, terrestrial, and marine ecosystems. The conversion of nitrogen can ...
.


Isotopic signatures


References

{{Navbox element isotopes Nitrogen
Nitrogen Nitrogen is the chemical element with the Symbol (chemistry), symbol N and atomic number 7. Nitrogen is a nonmetal and the lightest member of pnictogen, group 15 of the periodic table, often called the pnictogens. It is a common element in the ...