What is the oxidation state of nitrogen?

Oct 25, 2015

The oxidation state of nitrogen can range from +5 to -5 .

Explanation:

For this element (atomic number 7), the ground state electronic configuration is

$1 {s}^{2}$ $2 {s}^{2}$ $2 {p}^{3}$ = 7 electrons

Now, according to Lewis, an atom tend to either give, take or share electrons with the other atoms just to fulfill the Octet Rule which states that for an atom to be stable, it needs to have eight electrons in its outer valence shell - the same configuration as with the noble gases (all with eight electrons in its outermost valence shell except Helium, which has only 2 electrons).

In the case of nitrogen, the electrons in the outermost valence shell is only 5 (from $2 {s}^{2}$ $2 {p}^{3}$).

Therefore, the nitrogen can have the following electronic configurations:

$1 {s}^{2}$ = 2 electrons, (${N}^{\text{5+}}$) $\rightarrow$ minimum
$1 {s}^{2}$ $2 {s}^{2}$ $2 {p}^{6}$ = 10 electrons, (${N}^{\text{3-}}$)
$1 {s}^{2}$ $2 {s}^{2}$ $2 {p}^{6}$ $3 {s}^{2}$ = 12 electrons, (${N}^{\text{5-}}$) $\rightarrow$ maximum

So, the range of oxidation state for N can be from +5 to -5.