Ammonium cer(IV) nitrate is an orange, crystalline powder that dissolves well in water, the solution reacts acidically. The substance is a strong oxidizing agent, dangerous reactions are possible when mixed with flammable substances. Sudden decomposition can also occur when heated strongly.
Adding a small amount of ammonium cerium(IV) nitrate to 20% nitric acid gives a light yellow solution. With alcohols the reagent turns orange-red. The reaction takes place with any substance from the group of alcohols. A red complex is formed.
The reaction of cerium(III) oxide with boiling nitric acid involving ammonium nitrate produces ammonium cerium(IV) nitrate.
Ammonium cer(IV) nitrate is a frequently used oxidizing agent for the oxidation of many functional groups. These include alcohols, phenols and ethers. Also C-H bonds can be oxidized e.g. in benzyl positions. The oxidation of catechols and hydroquinones yields the corresponding quinones.
In the structuring of thin films, ammonium cerium(IV) nitrate is used for selective etching of chromium . In this process the chromium is oxidized by the cerium and thus brought into solution. A solution of about 10 % ammonium cerium(IV) nitrate in an acid (nitric, perchloric or acetic acid) has an etching rate of about 50-150 nm/min.
Ammonium cer(IV) nitrate is used in chemistry lessons to detect alcohols.