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Alkali Phosphides

Soon after the discovery of the alkali metals the direct combinations of these with phosphorus vapour were recorded. The combination can also be effected under petroleum, the unchanged phosphorus being removed by carbon disulphide.

When alkali metals are brought into contact with red phosphorus in liquid ammonia, ammonio-phosphides such as NaP3.3NH3 and KP5.3NH3 are formed, and can be deprived of their ammonia at 180° C., leaving the phosphides as brown solids. In liquid ammonia sodium and potassium are also capable of displacing one hydrogen from phosphine, giving crystalline monophosphides (phosphamides), NaPH2 and KPH2, which decompose on heating giving eventually K3P and Na3P.

Rubidium and caesium phosphides have been made by similar methods and by distilling phosphorus in a vacuum with the alkali metal. The formulae are given as Rb2P5 and Cs2P5; K2P5 is also known.

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