Chemical element, symbol P and atomic number 15 / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Phosphorus is a chemical element; it has symbol P and atomic number 15. Elemental phosphorus exists in two major forms, white phosphorus and red phosphorus, but because it is highly reactive, phosphorus is never found as a free element on Earth. It has a concentration in the Earth's crust of about one gram per kilogram (compare copper at about 0.06 grams). In minerals, phosphorus generally occurs as phosphate.

Quick facts: Phosphorus, Pronunciation, Allotropes, Appear...
Phosphorus, 15P
Forms of phosphorus
Waxy white
Light red
Dark red and violet
Pronunciation/ˈfɒsfərəs/ (FOS-fər-əs)
Allotropeswhite, red, violet, black and others (see Allotropes of phosphorus)
Appearancewhite, red and violet are waxy, black is metallic-looking
Standard atomic weight Ar°(P)
in the Earth's crust5.2 (silicon = 100)
Phosphorus in the periodic table


Atomic number (Z)15
Groupgroup 15 (pnictogens)
Periodperiod 3
Block  p-block
Electron configuration[Ne] 3s2 3p3
Electrons per shell2, 8, 5
Physical properties
Phase at STPsolid
Melting pointwhite: 317.3 K (44.15 °C, 111.5 °F)
red: 860 K (590 °C, 1090 °F)[3]
Boiling pointwhite: 553.7 K (280.5 °C, 536.9 °F)
Sublimation pointred: ≈689.2–863 K (≈416–590 °C, ≈780.8–1094 °F)
violet: 893 K (620 °C, 1148 °F)
Density (near r.t.)white: 1.823 g/cm3
red: ≈2.2–2.34 g/cm3
violet: 2.36 g/cm3
black: 2.69 g/cm3
Heat of fusionwhite: 0.66 kJ/mol
Heat of vaporisationwhite: 51.9 kJ/mol
Molar heat capacitywhite: 23.824 J/(mol·K)
Vapour pressure (white)
P (Pa) 1 10 100 1 k 10 k 100 k
at T (K) 279 307 342 388 453 549
Vapour pressure (red)
P (Pa) 1 10 100 1 k 10 k 100 k
at T (K) 455 489 529 576 635 704
Atomic properties
Oxidation states−3, −2, −1, 0,[4] +1,[5] +2, +3, +4, +5 (a mildly acidic oxide)
ElectronegativityPauling scale: 2.19
Ionisation energies
  • 1st: 1011.8 kJ/mol
  • 2nd: 1907 kJ/mol
  • 3rd: 2914.1 kJ/mol
  • (more)
Covalent radius107±3 pm
Van der Waals radius180 pm
Color lines in a spectral range
Spectral lines of phosphorus
Other properties
Natural occurrenceprimordial
Crystal structure body-centred cubic (bcc)
Bodycentredcubic crystal structure for phosphorus
Thermal conductivitywhite: 0.236 W/(m⋅K)
black: 12.1 W/(m⋅K)
Magnetic orderingwhite, red, violet, black: diamagnetic[6]
Molar magnetic susceptibility−20.8×10−6 cm3/mol (293 K)[7]
Bulk moduluswhite: 5 GPa
red: 11 GPa
CAS Number7723-14-0 (red)
12185-10-3 (white)
DiscoveryHennig Brand (1669)
Recognised as an element byAntoine Lavoisier[8] (1777)
Isotopes of phosphorus
Main isotopes Decay
abun­dance half-life (t1/2) mode pro­duct
31P 100% stable
32P trace 14.269 d β 32S
33P trace 25.35 d β 33S
Symbol_category_class.svg Category: Phosphorus
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Elemental phosphorus was first isolated as white phosphorus in 1669. In white phosphorus, phosphorus atoms are arranged in groups of 4, written as P4. White phosphorus emits a faint glow when exposed to oxygen—hence the name, taken from Greek mythology, Φωσφόρος meaning 'light-bearer' (Latin Lucifer), referring to the "Morning Star", the planet Venus. The term phosphorescence, meaning glow after illumination, derives from this property of phosphorus, although the word has since been used for a different physical process that produces a glow. The glow of phosphorus is caused by oxidation of the white (but not red) phosphorus—a process now called chemiluminescence. Phosphorus is classified as a pnictogen, together with nitrogen, arsenic, antimony, bismuth, and moscovium.

Phosphorus is an element essential to sustaining life largely through phosphates, compounds containing the phosphate ion, PO43−. Phosphates are a component of DNA, RNA, ATP, and phospholipids, complex compounds fundamental to cells. Elemental phosphorus was first isolated from human urine, and bone ash was an important early phosphate source. Phosphate mines contain fossils because phosphate is present in the fossilized deposits of animal remains and excreta. Low phosphate levels are an important limit to growth in a number of plant ecosystems. The vast majority of phosphorus compounds mined are consumed as fertilisers. Phosphate is needed to replace the phosphorus that plants remove from the soil, and its annual demand is rising nearly twice as fast as the growth of the human population. Other applications include organophosphorus compounds in detergents, pesticides, and nerve agents.

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