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What is Sodium Azide?
Sodium azide is a white to colorless crystalline solid that is highly soluble in water and is used as a preservative in aqueous laboratory reagents and biologic fluids and in automobile airbags as a gas generator. It has also been investigated for use as an herbicide, insecticide, nematocide, fungicide, and bacteriocide and is used in the manufacturing of rubber, latex, wine, and Japanese beer, and as a chemical intermediate in lead azide production. Its use in automotive airbags has not resulted in sodium azide poisoning, but it has rarely caused relatively minor chemical burns by producing nitrogen gas and sodium oxide; the latter reacts with water to form corrosive sodium hydroxide.
Sodium azide is used as a source of azide anion which is a strong nucleophile that readily displaces suitable leaving groups. Azide functionalized molecules can undergo a number of transformations including copper-catalyzed [2+3] cyclocondensation with terminal alkynes and the Staudinger Reaction. Sodium azide is also commonly used as a preservative in many biochemical solutions.
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