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Phosphorus pentasulfide

Phosphorus pentasulfide

Other names phosphorus sulfide
sulfur phosphide
phosphorus persulfide
diphosphorus pentasulfide
tetraphosphorus decasulfide
Molecular formula P4S10
Empirical formula P2S5
Molar mass 444.555 g mol−1
Appearance yellow solid
CAS number [1314-80-3]
Density and phase 2.09 g cm−3, solid
Solubility in water hydrolyses
Solubility in other solvents 0.222 g / 100g CS2 (at 17 °C)
Insoluble in C6H6
Insoluble in hot xylene
Insoluble in hot anisole.
Melting point 288 °C (561 K)
Boiling point 514 °C (787 K)
Vapor pressure
EU classification
NFPA 704
Related compounds P4S3
Except where noted otherwise, data are given for
materials in their standard state (at 25 °C, 100 kPa)
Infobox disclaimer and references

Phosphorus pentasulfide is the chemical compound with the formula P4S10. This yellow solid is an industrially important inorganic compound of phosphorus and sulfur. Commercial samples often appear greenish-gray. The compound has a low solubilty in carbon disulfide and benzene, but it reacts with many organic compounds such as alcohols and amines. Its molecular structure is related to that of adamantane, a common motif in inorganic chemistry, and is almost identical to the structure of phosphorus pentoxide.[1]



Phosphorus pentasulfide is obtained by the reaction of liquid white phosphorus, P4, with sulfur above 300 °C. Alternatively, P4S10 can be formed by reacting elemental sulfur or pyrite, FeS2, with ferrophosphorus, impure Fe2P (a byproduct of P4 production from phosphate rock):

4Fe2P + 18S → P4S10 + 8FeS
4Fe2P + 18FeS2 + heat → P4S10 + 26FeS


Due to hydrolysis by atmospheric moisture, P4S10 evolves H2S, thus P4S10 is associated with a rotten egg odour. Aside from H2S, hydrolysis of P4S10 gives phosphoric acid:

P4S10 + 16H2O → 4H3PO4 + 10H2S

Other mild nucleophiles react with P4S10, including alcohols and amines. Aromatic compounds such as anisole, ferrocene and 1-methoxynapthalene react to form 1,3,2,4-dithiadiphosphetane 2,4-disulfides such as lawesson's reagent.

Related phosphorus sulfides

Aside from the commercially important P4S3 and P4S10, several other phosphorus sulfides are known with the formula P4Sx where x is less than or equal to 10. Six of these phosphorus sulfides exist as isomers: P4S4, P4S5, P4S6, P4S7, P4S8, and P4S9. These isomers are distinguished by Greek letter prefixes. The prefix is based on the order of the discovery of the isomers, not on structural principles.[2] All known molecular phosphorus sulfides contain a tetrahedral array of four phosphorus atoms.


The main method for preparing these compounds is thermolysis of mixtures of phosphorus and sulfur. The product distributions can be analyzed by 31P NMR spectroscopy. More selective syntheses entail (i) desulfurization, e.g. using triphenylphosphine and, complementarily, (ii) sulfidation using triphenylarsine sulfide.[3][4]


Phosphorus pentasulfide is used for manufacturing zinc dialkyl dithio phosphate, insecticides, ore flotation agents, and various organophosphates. It is also a component of some amorphous solid electrolytes (eg. Li2S-P2S5) for some types of lithium batteries.

Phosphorus pentasulfide is a dual-use material, as it can be used for manufacture of the VX nerve agent.


  1. ^ D. E. C. Corbridge "Phosphorus: An Outline of its Chemistry, Biochemistry, and Technology" 5th Edition Elsevier: Amsterdam 1995. ISBN 0-444-89307-5.
  2. ^ Jason, M. E.; Ngo, T.; Rahman, S. (1997). "Products and Mechanisms in the Oxidation of Phosphorus by Sulfur at Low Temperature". Inorg. Chem. 36: 2633-2640. doi:10.1021/ic9614879.
  3. ^ Jason, M. E. (1997). "Transfer of Sulfur from Arsenic and Antimony Sulfides to Phosphorus Sulfides. Rational Syntheses of Several Less-Common P4Sn Species". Inorg. Chem. 36: 2641-2646. doi:10.1021/ic9614881.
  4. ^ Nowottnick, H.; Blachnik, R. "Zwei neue Phosphorsulfide” (Two New Phosphorus Sulfides) Zeitschrift für Anorganische und Allgemeine Chemie 1999, volume 625, pages 1966-1968.
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Phosphorus_pentasulfide". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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