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British natural philosopher, chemist, physicist, and inventor Robert Boyle (1627 - 1691).


Arsenic sulfides and oxides were known since ancient times. Zosimos ( ca . 300 AD) describes roasting sandarach (realgar, α-As 4 S 4 ) to obtain cloud of arsenious oxide (As 2 O 3 ) that he reduced to metallic arsenic ( [link] ).

The distillation apparatus of Zosimos.


Antimony(III) sulfide, Sb 2 S 3 was known as early as 3000 BC. Pastes of Sb 2 S 3 powder in fat were used as eye cosmetics in the Middle East. An artifact made of antimony dating to about 3000 BC was found at Tello (part of present-day Iraq), and copper objects plated with antimony from 2500 - 2200 BC have been found in Egypt. The first European description of a procedure for isolating antimony is in the book De la pirotechnia by Vannoccio Biringuccio (1480 - 1539).


Since bismuth was known in ancient times, no one person is credited with its discovery. However, the French chemist Claude François Geoffroy (1729 - 1753) demonstrated in 1753 that this metal is distinct from lead and tin.


The abundance of the Group 15 elements is given in [link] .

Abundance of the Group 15 elements.
Element Terrestrial abundance (ppm)
N 25 (Earth’s crust), 5 (soil), 0.5 (sea water), 78 x 10 4 (atmosphere)
P 1000 (Earth’s crust), 0.65 (soil), 60 x 10 -3 (sea water), trace (atmosphere)
As 1.5 (Earth’s crust), 10 (soil), 16 x 10 -3 (sea water), trace (atmosphere)
Sb 0.2 (Earth’s crust), 1 (soil), 0.3 x 10 -3 (sea water)
Bi 48 x 10 -3 (Earth’s crust), 0.25 (soil), 400 x 10 -6 (sea water)


The naturally abundant isotopes of the Group 15 elements are listed in [link] .

Abundance of the non-synthetic isotopes of the Group 15 elements.
Isotope Natural abundance (%)
Nitrogen-14 99.634
Nitrogen-15 0.0366
Phosphorus-31 100
Arsenic-75 100
Antimony-121 57.36
Antimony-123 42.64
Bismuth-209 100%

Two radioactive isotopes of phosphorus ( 32 P and 33 P) have half-lives that make them useful for scientific experiments (14.262 and 25.34 days, respectively). 32 P is a β-emitter (1.71 MeV) and is used to produce radiolabeled DNA and RNA probes. Due to the high energy of the β particles which can penetrate skin and corneas, and because any 32 P ingested, inhaled, or absorbed is incorporated into bone and nucleic acids extreme care needs to be taken in handling. The lower energy β particles emitted from 33 P (0.25 MeV) make it useful for applications such as DNA sequencing.

While bismuth is traditionally regarded as the element with the heaviest stable isotope, 209 Bi, it had long been suspected to be unstable on theoretical grounds. In 2003 researchers at the Institut d'Astrophysique Spatiale in Orsay, France, measured the alpha emission half-life of 209 Bi to be 1.9 × 10 19 years, over a billion times longer than the current estimated age of the universe!

Industrial production of the elements

Nitrogen is the largest constituent of the Earth's atmosphere (78.082% by volume, 75.3% by weight). It is created by fusion processes in stars, and is estimated to be the 7 th most abundant element by mass in the universe. Industrial gas produced is by the fractional distillation of liquid air, or by mechanical means using gaseous air (i.e., pressurized reverse osmosis membrane or pressure swing adsorption). Commercial nitrogen is often a byproduct of air processing for industrial concentration of oxygen for steelmaking, etc.

Questions & Answers

what is the stm
Brian Reply
is there industrial application of fullrenes. What is the method to prepare fullrene on large scale.?
industrial application...? mmm I think on the medical side as drug carrier, but you should go deeper on your research, I may be wrong
How we are making nano material?
what is a peer
What is meant by 'nano scale'?
What is STMs full form?
scanning tunneling microscope
how nano science is used for hydrophobicity
Do u think that Graphene and Fullrene fiber can be used to make Air Plane body structure the lightest and strongest. Rafiq
what is differents between GO and RGO?
what is simplest way to understand the applications of nano robots used to detect the cancer affected cell of human body.? How this robot is carried to required site of body cell.? what will be the carrier material and how can be detected that correct delivery of drug is done Rafiq
what is Nano technology ?
Bob Reply
write examples of Nano molecule?
The nanotechnology is as new science, to scale nanometric
nanotechnology is the study, desing, synthesis, manipulation and application of materials and functional systems through control of matter at nanoscale
Is there any normative that regulates the use of silver nanoparticles?
Damian Reply
what king of growth are you checking .?
What fields keep nano created devices from performing or assimulating ? Magnetic fields ? Are do they assimilate ?
Stoney Reply
why we need to study biomolecules, molecular biology in nanotechnology?
Adin Reply
yes I'm doing my masters in nanotechnology, we are being studying all these domains as well..
what school?
biomolecules are e building blocks of every organics and inorganic materials.
anyone know any internet site where one can find nanotechnology papers?
Damian Reply
sciencedirect big data base
Introduction about quantum dots in nanotechnology
Praveena Reply
what does nano mean?
Anassong Reply
nano basically means 10^(-9). nanometer is a unit to measure length.
do you think it's worthwhile in the long term to study the effects and possibilities of nanotechnology on viral treatment?
Damian Reply
absolutely yes
how to know photocatalytic properties of tio2 nanoparticles...what to do now
Akash Reply
it is a goid question and i want to know the answer as well
characteristics of micro business
for teaching engĺish at school how nano technology help us
How can I make nanorobot?
Do somebody tell me a best nano engineering book for beginners?
s. Reply
there is no specific books for beginners but there is book called principle of nanotechnology
how can I make nanorobot?
what is fullerene does it is used to make bukky balls
Devang Reply
are you nano engineer ?
fullerene is a bucky ball aka Carbon 60 molecule. It was name by the architect Fuller. He design the geodesic dome. it resembles a soccer ball.
what is the actual application of fullerenes nowadays?
That is a great question Damian. best way to answer that question is to Google it. there are hundreds of applications for buck minister fullerenes, from medical to aerospace. you can also find plenty of research papers that will give you great detail on the potential applications of fullerenes.
how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
Smarajit Reply
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waht is hydrating power of lithium carbonates
Mahar Reply

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Source:  OpenStax, Chemistry of the main group elements. OpenStax CNX. Aug 20, 2010 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11124/1.25
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