What are the elemental states of phosphorus, selenium, sulfur, and carbon?

1 Answer
Dec 2, 2016


#P, Se, S,# and #C# tend to be non-molecular........


Carbon can form a high energy #C_2# molecule, as well as the non-molecular graphite form and diamond form. Diamond and graphite differ in the respect of structure: graphite is non-molecular in 2 dimensions, whereas diamond is non-molecular in 3 dimensions. You should also look at #"buckminsterfullerene, "C_60#; if you can describe the shape of a football, you can describe this molecule.

Phosphorus also has several allotropic forms. It can form a highly reactive #P_4# molecule, i.e. #"white phosphorus"#, which must be stored under water because of the strain imposed by the #P_4# tetrahedron; the material ignites in air. Red phosphorus, has a similar structure, however, in this allotrope there are no discrete molecules. There are a few reactions where red phosphorus can be used in place of white phosphorus provided that reaction times are extended.

Sulfur has several allotropic forms. #"Flowers of sulfur"#, a bright yellow powder, is what is normally supplied to laboratories; this is the #S_8# molecule, and is as soluble as a brick.

Selenium is again non-molecular and has 2-3 allotropes, i.e. black and red selenium.

At undergraduate and A level, the so-called allotropes of carbon, and phosphorus should be committed to memory.