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Name: Erica
Status: student
Grade: 6-8
Location: VA
Country: USA
Date: N/A


Question:
What is the malleability and ductility of Phosphorus? What do these properties mean?


Replies:
Hi Erica,

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.

Regards,

Bob Wilson.


Erica,

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)

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