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Wikipedia article: Phosphorus
· A multivalent nonmetal of the nitrogen group, phosphorus as a mineral is almost always present in its maximally oxidized state, as inorganic phosphate rocks.
· Elemental phosphorus exists in two major forms—white phosphorus and red phosphorus—but due to its high reactivity, phosphorus is never found as a free element on Earth.
· The first form of elemental phosphorus to be produced (white phosphorus, in 1669) emits a faint glow upon exposure to oxygen – hence its name given from Greek mythology, Φωσφόρος meaning "light-bearer" (Latin Lucifer), referring to the "Morning Star", the planet Venus.
· Although the term "phosphorescence", meaning glow after illumination, derives from this property of phosphorus, the glow of phosphorus originates from oxidation of the white (but not red) phosphorus and should be called chemiluminescence.
· The vast majority of phosphorus compounds are consumed as fertilizers.
· Today, the most important commercial use of phosphorus-based chemicals is the production of fertilizers, to replace the phosphorus that plants remove from the soil.
· The two most common allotropes are white phosphorus and red phosphorus.
· White phosphorus and related molecular forms The most important form of elemental phosphorus from the perspective of applications and chemical literature is white phosphorus.
· In this sense, red phosphorus is not an allotrope, but rather an intermediate phase between the white and violet phosphorus, and most of its properties have a range of values.
· Phosphorus is not found free in nature, but it is widely distributed in many minerals, mainly phosphates.
· The white phosphorus is then oxidised to phosphoric acid and subsequently neutralised with base to give phosphate salts.
· Oxides The most prevalent compounds of phosphorus are derivatives of phosphate (PO4), a tetrahedral anion.
· In 1769 Johan Gottlieb Gahn and Carl Wilhelm Scheele showed that calcium phosphate (Ca3(PO4)2) is found in bones, and they obtained phosphorus from bone ash.
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