Red Phosphorus

Phosphorus is a chemical element which is placed in the 3rd period and 15th group in the Modern Periodic Table with the symbol P. It occurs mainly in two forms – White phosphorus and Red phosphorus. These are allotropes of phosphorus. As red phosphorus is more stable than white phosphorus so it is used in various fields. In this article we will discuss red phosphorus in detail. 

What is Red Phosphorus? 

Red phosphorus is an allotrope of phosphorus and a derivative of the P4 molecule. It is red in color, nontoxic, odorless and less active than white phosphorus. As red phosphorus is less active than white phosphorus so it is more stable than white phosphorus. It does not possess the property of phosphorescence

It was discovered by an Austrian chemist Anton von Schrotter in 1845. He heated the white phosphorous up to 4820F in the presence of nitrogen for a few hours and produced red phosphorus. 

Structure of Red Phosphorus  

Red phosphorus has a polymeric structure in which 4 tetrahedrally grouped phosphorus atoms are bonded together wherein one P-P bond is broken and one additional bond is formed with the neighboring tetrahedron resulting in a chain-like structure.

Properties of Red Phosphorus 

  • Red phosphorus is red in color.

  • It is odorless.

  • It is more stable than white phosphorus. 

  • Its molar mass is 30.974g/mol.

  • It is amorphous solid.

  • Its melting point is 860K.

  • Its density is 2.34g/cm3

Preparation of Red Phosphorus 

Red phosphorus is prepared from white phosphorus. It is an intermediate phase between the white and violet phosphorus. This is the reason most of its properties have a range of values. For example, freshly prepared red phosphorous is highly reactive and ignites at 3000C while after storage or prolonged heating its red color darkens, and it becomes less reactive. 

Red phosphorous is prepared is by heating white phosphorus to 4820F in an inert atmosphere (like in presence of nitrogen) and in presence of iodine (I2) as catalyst. 

Applications of Red Phosphorus 

Red phosphorus is used in many fields. Few of its uses are listed below –

  • It is used in the production of semiconductors. 

  • It is used in matchsticks.

  • It is used in production of pyrotechnics, fertilizers, and pesticides.

  • It is used in electroluminescent coatings.

  • It is used in many organic synthesis reactions.

  • Due to its stable but reactive nature, it is used in smoke bombs.

  • It is an important component of steel production.

  • Its few compounds are used in water softening as well.

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