Malleability of Phosphorous
What is the malleability and ductility of Phosphorus?
What do these properties mean?
Malleability and ductility mean essentially the same thing.
These properties describe how easy it is for a material to be
squeezed and deformed into different shapes. Compare a piece
of glass to a piece of lead. The glass resists bending or
other types of deforming and instead can shatter or break
when one tries to bend or deform it. A piece of lead can be
squeezed easily into other shapes, almost as easily as putty!
So we say that glass has essentially no malleability or
ductility. Lead, on the other hand is extremely malleable or
ductile. Other materials have varying degrees of this
property. Phosphorous is not a metal, and has two common
forms: White Phosphorous and red phosphorous. The difference
is the molecular structure of the phosphorous atoms. White
phosphorous is a very ductile solid that is best described as
"soft and waxy". Red Phosphorous is not as "soft" and ductile
as white phosphorous, and in fact, red phosphorous usually
exists only as a reddish powder.
Malleability and ductility are two properties usually associated
with metals and metalloids. Malleability is the ability of a
substance to be deformed or shaped by hammering or rolling, it is a
measure of how mobile the atoms/molecules of the substance are
relative to each other. Ductility is the elongation that a substance
can sustain when pulled (or rolled) without fracturing or breaking.
It is a measure of the cohesive strength of the substance.
The malleability of phosphorous is actually quite high (I do not
know the exact value), although, I imagine this is particularly
difficult to measure with phosphorous since it is very reactive to
moisture in the air and is most likely measured in inert environments.
Greg (Roberto Gregorius)
Update: June 2012