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lithium nitride (LiN) is the only stable alkali metal nitride and is one of the strongest base materials known. It is an extremely hard, tough material, insoluble in organic solvents, and has a melting point of about 813 K. Fine powdered lithium nitride ignites violently in air and is capable of producing toxic hydrogen chloride gas if exposed to flame or heat, and it reacts vigorously with water to produce poisonous ammonia gas. lithium nitride is insoluble in any other liquid and is usually stored dry and kept away from moist air.

Chemical synthesis techniques can be used to prepare a variety of shapes of the material, from nanopowders to long fibers whose diameters range up to 2 mm and lengths up to 10 mm. These structures can be oriented to obtain a wide variety of electrical and mechanical properties.

It is now possible to control substitution of transition metals in the lithium nitride crystal structure and also to adjust the level of lithium ion vacancies within the doped material, report UK chemists. This makes it possible to construct doped lithium nitrides with a large range of electronic and ionic conductivity characteristics.

This is the first time that it has been possible to show, using Raman spectroscopy, that changes in the LiN structure affect the vibrational phonon modes of the material. Compared to bulk LiN, the E2g vibrational band broadens and shifts to higher frequency in microcrystals of LiN, and ab-initio calculations indicate that this is due to a shortening of the sp2 bond distance between atoms in the layer.