Nitrogen is a chemical element with symbol N and atomic number 7. It is the lightest pnictogen and at room temperature, it is a transparent, odorless diatomic gas. Nitrogen is a common element in the universe.On Earth, the element forms about 78% of Earth's atmosphere and as such is the most abundant uncombined element.
Many industrially important compounds, such as ammonia, nitric acid, organic nitrates (propellants and explosives), and cyanides, contain nitrogen. The extremely strong triple bond in elemental nitrogen (N≡N) dominates nitrogen chemistry, causing difficulty for both organisms and industry in converting the N2 into useful compounds, but at the same time causing release of large amounts of often useful energy when the compounds burn, explode, or decay back into nitrogen gas. Synthetically produced ammonia and nitrates are key industrial fertilizers and fertilizer nitrates are key pollutants in causing the eutrophication of water systems.
Nitrogen is a constituent of molecules in every major pharmacological drug class, including antibiotics.
Nitrogen occurs in all organisms, primarily in amino acids (and thus proteins), in the nucleic acids (DNA and RNA) and in the energy transfer molecule adenosine triphosphate. The human body contains about 3% by mass of nitrogen, the fourth most abundant element in the body after oxygen, carbon, and hydrogen. The nitrogen cycle describes movement of the element from the air, into the biosphere and organic compounds, then back into the atmosphere.