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Aluminium phosphide
CAS number 20859-73-8 Yes check.svgY
PubChem 30332
ChemSpider 28171
RTECS number BD1400000
Molecular formula AlP
Molar mass 57.9552 g/mol
Appearance yellow or gray crystals
Density 2.85 g/cm³, solid
Melting point

2530 °C

Solubility in water reacts
Band gap 2.5 eV (indirect)[1]
Refractive index (nD) 2.75 (IR), ~3 (Vis) [1]
MSDS External MSDS
EU classification Toxic T
Dangerous for the Environment (Nature) N
NFPA 704
NFPA 704.svg
Flash point >800 °C
LD50 11.5 mg/kg
 Yes check.svgY (what is this?)  (verify)
Except where noted otherwise, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C, 100 kPa)
Infobox references

Aluminium phosphide is the chemical compound with the empirical formula AlP. This colourless solid is generally sold as a grey-green-yellow powder due to the presence of impurities arising from hydrolysis and oxidation. This material is a wide band gap semiconductor and is used as a fumigant.


Structure, synthesis, and chemical properties

AlP crystallizes in the cubic zinc blende lattice, wherein all atoms have tetrahedral coordination. Related materials crystallize similarly, including GaAs. At pressures of 14-17 GPa, AlP transforms into a rocksalt phase [1].

Crude aluminium phosphide can be prepared in the laboratory by igniting a mixture of red phosphorus and powdered aluminium.[2]

Aluminium phosphide reacts with water or acids to release phosphine.[3]

AlP + 3 H2O → Al(OH)3 + PH3
AlP + 3 H+ → Al3+ + PH3

Physical properties

Aluminium phosphide has a hardness of 5.5 on the Mohs scale [1].


AlP is used as a rodenticide, insecticide, and fumigant for stored cereal grains. It is used to kill small verminous mammals such as moles, rabbits, and rodents. The tablets or pellets typically also contain other chemicals that evolve ammonia which helps to reduce the potential for spontaneous ignition or explosion of the phosphine gas.

As a rodenticide, aluminium phosphide pellets are provided as a mixture with food for consumption by the rodents. The acid in the digestive system of the rodent reacts with the phosphide to generate the toxic phosphine gas. Other pesticides similar to aluminium phosphide are zinc phosphide and calcium phosphide.

As a rodenticide, aluminium phosphide can be encountered under various brand names, e.g. Celphos, Fumitoxin, Phostoxin, and Quick Phos.



In October 2002, Sir Derek Bibby, 2nd baronet and great-great-grandson of the founder and past chairman and president of the Bibby Line shipping company, aged 80 and terminally ill with leukaemia, committed suicide by consuming aluminium phosphide - the poison, hours later, caused his body to emit dangerous fumes forcing the evacuation of the hospital department where his body was being held.[4]

In February 2009, two children died in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia after a neighbouring house was fumigated with aluminium phosphide.[5]

In February 2010, two sisters died in Layton, Utah after the area around their home was treated with fumitoxin to get rid of rats. The two sisters, ages 4 years old and 15 months, died just three days apart from each other after experiencing identical symptoms.[6]

Semiconductor applications

Industrially, AlP is a semiconductor material that is usually alloyed with other binary materials for applications in devices such as light-emitting diodes (e.g. aluminium gallium indium phosphide).[7]


  1. ^ a b c d L. I. Berger "Semiconductor materials" CRC Press, 1996 ISBN 0849389127, 9780849389122 (available on google books), p. 125
  2. ^ Wayne E. White, A. H. Bushey (1953). "Aluminum Phosphide". Inorganic Syntheses 4: 23–25. doi:10.1002/9780470132357.ch7. 
  3. ^ Holleman, A. F.; Wiberg, E. "Inorganic Chemistry" Academic Press: San Diego, 2001. ISBN 0-12-352651-5.
  4. ^ "Millionaire's death sparks poison scare". BBC News. 2002-10-10. Retrieved 2009-04-05. 
  5. ^ "Fumes kill two Danes in Jeddah". BBC News. 2009-02-24. Retrieved 2009-02-25. 
  6. ^ "Family loses 2nd child in suspected pesticide poisoning". KSL-TV. 2010-02-09. Retrieved 2010-02-09. 
  7. ^ D. E. C. Corbridge "Phosphorus: An Outline of its Chemistry, Biochemistry, and Technology" 5th Edition Elsevier: Amsterdam 1995. ISBN 0-444-89307-5.


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