Phosphorus Atom Joey Stephens Brennan

  • Email
  • Sharebar
  • Email
joeysb.11's picture

Phosphorus Atom


1. An element is a substance that cannot be broken down chemically or physically into a simpler substances. Elements are what makes up the world we live in, and each element has an atom with a different, definitive structure. Phosphorus is the fifteenth element found on the periodic table of elements. Using VRMath2, an online coding software, a 3D model of a phosphorus atom was constructed. The following blog will outline the structure, characteristics and composition of the atom, and explain any difficulties or interesting ideas found during the process of constructing the atom, as well as show an image of and provide a link to the model of the atom on the VRMath2 website.

2. Phosphorus is a pure element, meaning it cannot be chemically broken down into a smaller, simpler substances. All atoms consist of a nucleus made up of neutrons and protons surrounded by a cloud of electrons. Every element's atom has a different amount of protons, neutrons and electrons. Phosphorus has a atomic number of 15, meaning it has 15 protons and 15 electrons. It also has 16 neutrons. This means its atomic mass is 30.93 amu (atomic mass units). 
Phosphorus occurs in two forms: White and Red. White phosphorus is a sticky, waxy substance, and is very combustible and can explode and burn in air, at a temperature of about 35°C. It is also very poisonous to humans, unlike Red phosphorus. Red phosphorus is powdery and far less reactive, however can still burn in air. White phosphorus was originally used for matchsticks due to its ability to easily combust. Modern matchsticks, however, use red phosphorus on the tips as the igniter. White phosphorus does, however, still play a role in the lighting of matches. When the Red phosphorus is struck against the matchbox, the friction is enough to convert a little of the Red phosphorus into White, just enough to start the fire. 
3. More Information: 
The experience of the 3D modelling was challenging and overall quite interesting. It was interesting, yet quite difficult to construct the model while learning the basics as we went along. The biggest challenge in the task came after constructing the nucleus. We had constructed the nucleus to have one large clump of protons and one large clump of neutrons, rather than have them mixed throughout, because this was easier and faster as you could write one line of code and simply repeat it over and over. After we had done this, however, a teacher informed us that, due to their charges, protons could not protons and neutrons could not touch neutrons. This meant we would have to delete all that we had done, and redo the entire nucleus. After much avoiding it, and trying to figure out an easier way to change it, we went back and changed this mistake, so that the nucleus now had protons and neutrons scattered randomly amongst each other. Another idea we had, but did not execute, was having an orbit with the electrons. In an atom, the electrons circle around the nucleus sporadically in a cloud. We did consider having the electrons orbiting the nucleus, as this was possible using VRMath2, however, we could not figure out how to do this.