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The Glow of Phosphorus


THE process of the slow luminous oxidation of phosphorus presents anomalies which are still incompletely understood. Thus, the non-occurrence of a glow in pure oxygen until the pressure is reduced to about 500 mm. of mercury, or an equivalent dilution with an inert gas is made, is very striking. No less difficult to explain is the ability of traces of certain vapours to inhibit the luminosity. These features are also exhibited in the slow oxidation of phosphorus trioxide, and it has been suggested that the phenomena of the glow of phosphorus are due to the trioxide formed in a preliminary non-luminous oxidation. Again, phosphine does not react with oxygen at ordinary pressures, but on reducing the pressure an explosion occurs.

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EMELÉUS, H. The Glow of Phosphorus. Nature 115, 460–461 (1925).

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