Nitrogen Trifluoride

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Published: May 2, 2011 5:01 pm

Updated: Oct 4, 2021 11:47pm
Geometry of Nitrogen Trifluoride molecule.

Author: C. Michael Hogan

Topic Editor: Andy Jorgensen


Nitrogen trifluoride (NF3) is an inorganic, colorless, toxic gas with a somewhat musty odor. It finds increasing use within the manufacturing of flat-panel displays, solar panels, LEDs and other microelectronics. NF3 is an irritant to mucous membranes and eyes, and is a pulmonary irritant with some toxicity; overexposure via inhalation causes the conversion of hemoglobin in blood to methemoglobin, that leads to the condition methemoglobinemia.

Greenhouse Gas

Time History of Nitrogen Trifluoride in the atmosphere, showing a current doubling time of about five years. Source: U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Nitrogen Trifluoride is one of the most powerful greenhouse gases, with a global warming potential of 17,200 times the forcing potential of Carbon Dioxide, over a one hundred year period. It has a residence time in the Earth atmosphere of 740 years. Its global warming potential make NF3 second only to Sulfur hexafluoride in the Kyoto list of greenhouse gases. Its percentage growth in concentration in the atmosphere has increased more than any other greenhouse gas since 1997. Most of this growth is due to its being a by-product in the manufacture of solar voltaics.


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C. Michael Hogan (2021) Nitrogen Trifluoride. Encyclopedia of Earth. National Council for Science and Environment. Washington DC