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Nitrous Oxide – N2O – Quality & Service – Messer - Specialty Gases

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Products and applications of Nitrous Oxide

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Nitrous Oxide - Part 1

Nitrous Oxide

Nitrous Oxide (N2O, also known as Dinitrogen Oxide or “laughing gas”) is a color- and odorless gas which is neither toxic nor flammable, albeit being a powerful oxidizer.  Nitrous Oxide is best known for medical usage in surgery and dentistry due to its anaesthetic and pain-reducing effects upon inhalation. The boiling point of N2O is at -88,5 °C (184,7 K) and its density amounts to 1,848 kg/m³ at 15 °C / 1000 mbar. Although the name suggests a similar molecular geometry to water, Nitrous Oxide features an asymmetrical structure instead, where the sole Oxygen atom is bond to a diatomic Nitrogen compound in a linear way.

Nitrous Oxide - Part 2


While Nitrous Oxide is a minor component of the atmosphere of the Earth (in the range of 330 to 340 ppb), the synthesis of N2O is more efficient utilizing various laboratory methods.  For an economical production of Nitrous Oxide on an industrial scale, two different methods have become well-established: on the one hand via thermal decomposition of Ammonium Nitrate into N2O and water vapor, on the other hand as one of the products from the reaction of Sodium Nitrate with Ammonium Sulfate.

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Nitrous Oxide - Part 3


Although its medical application is the best-known usage for N2O by far, there are manifold applications existent for Nitrous Oxide, e.g. for a power enhancement of a combustion engine, as an oxidizer in rocket motors or as an aerosol spray propellant. However, high-purity Nitrous Oxide is increasingly used in the semiconductor industry, predominantly as a precursor for the controlled deposition of thin films onto a wafer. In particular, N2O UHP is – in combination with Silicon precursors such as Silane – crucial for the production of high-quality insulating Silicon Oxide layers, as depicted in the icon below:

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Nitrous Oxide - Thin Layer Deposition

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