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Science >> Chemistry for Kids >> Periodic Table
<---Silicon       Sulfur--->

Elements for Kids

Phosphorus

The element phosphorus

  • Symbol: P
  • Atomic Number: 15
  • Atomic Weight: 30.97376
  • Classification: Nonmetal
  • Phase at Room Temperature: Solid
  • Density: white: 1.823 grams per cm cubed
  • Melting Point: white: 44.1°C, 111°F
  • Boiling Point: white: 280°C, 536°F
  • Discovered by: Hennig Brandt in 1669
Phosphorus is the second element in the fifteenth column of the period table. It is classified as a nonmetal. Phosphorus atoms have 15 electrons and 15 protons with 5 valence electrons in the outer shell.

Characteristics and Properties

Phosphorus is a highly reactive element and, as a result, is never found on Earth as a free element. Elemental phosphorus comes in various allotropes (different crystal structures) including white, red, violet, and black phosphorus. The two major forms of phosphorus are white and red.

White phosphorus is very reactive and unstable. White phosphorus is yellowish in color and is highly flammable. It will spontaneously ignite when it comes into contact with air. White phosphorus glows in the dark and is also very toxic.

Red phosphorus is generally more stable than white. It is also less toxic and doesn't spontaneously ignite when coming into contact with air. Red phosphorus is made by heating white phosphorus.

Where is phosphorus found on Earth?

Phosphorus is not found in its pure elemental form on Earth, but it is found in many minerals called phosphates. Most commercial phosphorus is produced by mining and heating calcium phosphate. Phosphorus is the eleventh most abundant element in the Earth's crust.

Phosphorus is also found in the human body. It is the sixth most abundant element in the human body.

How is phosphorus used today?

The primary use of phosphorus in industry is in the manufacture of fertilizers. This is because phosphorus is a key element in the growth of plants.

Red phosphorus is used in making pesticides and safety matches.

Other applications for phosphorus include baking powder, the alloy phosphor bronze, flame retardants, incendiary bombs, and LEDs (light emitting diodes).

Phosphorus is an important element in the functioning of the human body and is essential for life. It is used in the DNA molecule and is a main ingredient in our bones and teeth. We get phosphorus from foods such as beans, nuts, eggs, fish, milk, and chicken.

How was it discovered?

Phosphorus was discovered by German alchemist Hennig Brandt in 1669. He was hoping to create a legendary substance called the philosopher's stone. He stumbled across phosphorus while conducting experiments with urine.

Where did phosphorus get its name?

Phosphorus gets its name from the Greek word "phosphoros" meaning "bringer of light." Henning Brandt picked this name because the element glowed in the dark.

Isotopes

The only stable phosphorus isotope is phosphorus-31. It has twenty-three known isotopes.

Interesting Facts about Phosphorus

More on the Elements and the Periodic Table

Elements
Periodic Table

Alkali Metals
Lithium
Sodium
Potassium

Alkaline Earth Metals
Beryllium
Magnesium
Calcium
Radium

Transition Metals
Scandium
Titanium
Vanadium
Chromium
Manganese
Iron
Cobalt
Nickel
Copper
Zinc
Silver
Platinum
Gold
Mercury
Post-transition Metals
Aluminum
Gallium
Tin
Lead

Metalloids
Boron
Silicon
Germanium
Arsenic

Nonmetals
Hydrogen
Carbon
Nitrogen
Oxygen
Phosphorus
Sulfur
Halogens
Fluorine
Chlorine
Iodine

Noble Gases
Helium
Neon
Argon

Lanthanides and Actinides
Uranium
Plutonium

More Chemistry Subjects

Matter
Atom
Molecules
Isotopes
Solids, Liquids, Gases
Melting and Boiling
Chemical Bonding
Chemical Reactions
Radioactivity and Radiation
Mixtures and Compounds
Naming Compounds
Mixtures
Separating Mixtures
Solutions
Acids and Bases
Crystals
Metals
Salts and Soaps
Water
Other
Glossary and Terms
Chemistry Lab Equipment
Organic Chemistry
Famous Chemists


Science >> Chemistry for Kids >> Periodic Table







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