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The elements phosphorus and sulphur

The elements phosphorus and sulphur

A150/0211

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Credit

CHARLES D. WINTERS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY CHARLES D. WINTERS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

Sulphur and phosphorus. View of the elements sulphur (yellow powder) and phosphorus (under water). Sulphur, atomic symbol S, is a fairly reactive non-metal. It occurs freely in nature, especially in volcanic areas, and has been known since ancient times. It is mainly converted into sulphuric acid for use in paints, fertilisers and explosives. Phosphorus, a non-metal discovered in 1669, has the atomic symbol P. It is a highly reactive element, and has to be kept under water as it spontaneously ignites in air. Phosphorus and sulphur react together under certain conditions, forming a variety of phosphorus sulphides, which are used in match heads and pesticides.

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