Nitrous oxide, commonly known as laughing gas or sweet air, is a chemical compound with the formula N2O. It is an oxide of nitrogen.
At room temperature, it is a colourless non-flammable gas, with a slightly sweet odour and taste. It is used in surgery and dentistry for its anaesthetic and analgesic effects.
It is known as "laughing gas" due to the euphoric effects of inhaling it, a property that has led to its recreational use as a dissociative anaesthetic.
It is also used as an oxidizer in rocketry, in motor racing to increase the power output of engines and cream chargers as a propellant.
At elevated temperatures, nitrous oxide is a powerful oxidizer similar to molecular oxygen.
Nitrous oxide gives rise to NO (nitric oxide) on reaction with oxygen atoms, and this NO, in turn, reacts with ozone. As a result, it is the main naturally occurring regulator of stratospheric ozone.