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Chemical element, symbol S and atomic number 16 / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Sulfur (also spelled sulphur in British English) is a chemical element; it has symbol S and atomic number 16. It is abundant, multivalent and nonmetallic. Under normal conditions, sulfur atoms form cyclic octatomic molecules with the chemical formula S8. Elemental sulfur is a bright yellow, crystalline solid at room temperature.

Quick facts: Sulfur, Alternative name, Allotropes, Appeara...
Sulfur, 16S
Alternative nameSulphur (British spelling)
Allotropessee Allotropes of sulfur
AppearanceLemon yellow sintered microcrystals
Standard atomic weight Ar°(S)
  • [32.059, 32.076]
  • 32.06±0.02 (abridged)[1]
Sulfur in the periodic table


Atomic number (Z)16
Groupgroup 16 (chalcogens)
Periodperiod 3
Block  p-block
Electron configuration[Ne] 3s2 3p4
Electrons per shell2, 8, 6
Physical properties
Phase at STPsolid
Melting point388.36 K (115.21 °C, 239.38 °F)
Boiling point717.8 K (444.6 °C, 832.3 °F)
Density (near r.t.)alpha: 2.07 g/cm3
beta: 1.96 g/cm3
gamma: 1.92 g/cm3
when liquid (at m.p.)1.819 g/cm3
Critical point1314 K, 20.7 MPa
Heat of fusionmono: 1.727 kJ/mol
Heat of vaporizationmono: 45 kJ/mol
Molar heat capacity22.75 J/(mol·K)
Vapor pressure
P (Pa) 1 10 100 1 k 10 k 100 k
at T (K) 375 408 449 508 591 717
Atomic properties
Oxidation states−2, −1, 0, +1, +2, +3, +4, +5, +6 (a strongly acidic oxide)
ElectronegativityPauling scale: 2.58
Ionization energies
  • 1st: 999.6 kJ/mol
  • 2nd: 2252 kJ/mol
  • 3rd: 3357 kJ/mol
  • (more)
Covalent radius105±3 pm
Van der Waals radius180 pm
Color lines in a spectral range
Spectral lines of sulfur
Other properties
Natural occurrenceprimordial
Crystal structure orthorhombic
Orthorhombic crystal structure for sulfur
Thermal conductivity0.205 W/(m⋅K) (amorphous)
Electrical resistivity2×1015  Ω⋅m (at 20 °C) (amorphous)
Magnetic orderingdiamagnetic[2]
Molar magnetic susceptibility(α) −15.5×10−6 cm3/mol (298 K)[3]
Bulk modulus7.7 GPa
Mohs hardness2.0
CAS Number7704-34-9
Discoverybefore 2000 BCE[4]
Recognized as an element byAntoine Lavoisier (1777)
Isotopes of sulfur
Main isotopes Decay
abun­dance half-life (t1/2) mode pro­duct
32S 94.8% stable
33S 0.760% stable
34S 4.37% stable
35S trace 87.37 d β 35Cl
36S 0.02% stable
34S abundances vary greatly (between 3.96 and 4.77 percent) in natural samples.
Symbol_category_class.svg Category: Sulfur
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Sulfur is the tenth most abundant element by mass in the universe and the fifth most abundant on Earth. Though sometimes found in pure, native form, sulfur on Earth usually occurs as sulfide and sulfate minerals. Being abundant in native form, sulfur was known in ancient times, being mentioned for its uses in ancient India, ancient Greece, China, and ancient Egypt. Historically and in literature sulfur is also called brimstone,[5] which means "burning stone".[6] Today, almost all elemental sulfur is produced as a byproduct of removing sulfur-containing contaminants from natural gas and petroleum.[7][8] The greatest commercial use of the element is the production of sulfuric acid for sulfate and phosphate fertilizers, and other chemical processes. Sulfur is used in matches, insecticides, and fungicides. Many sulfur compounds are odoriferous, and the smells of odorized natural gas, skunk scent, bad breath, grapefruit, and garlic are due to organosulfur compounds. Hydrogen sulfide gives the characteristic odor to rotting eggs and other biological processes.

Sulfur is an essential element for all life, almost always in the form of organosulfur compounds or metal sulfides. Amino acids (two proteinogenic: cysteine and methionine, and many other non-coded: cystine, taurine, etc.) and two vitamins (biotin and thiamine) are organosulfur compounds crucial for life. Many cofactors also contain sulfur, including glutathione, and iron–sulfur proteins. Disulfides, S–S bonds, confer mechanical strength and insolubility of the (among others) protein keratin, found in outer skin, hair, and feathers. Sulfur is one of the core chemical elements needed for biochemical functioning and is an elemental macronutrient for all living organisms.

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