Abstract

The reaction of elemental phosphorus with atmospheric oxygen and water vapor produces a highly visible white smoke; extinction spectra in the 7–14-μm infrared have been measured for such phosphorus-derived smokes in varying environmental conditions. The extinction spectra show that the smoke particles are not homogeneous droplets of o-phosphoric acid. A descriptive model of the formation of the phosphorus-derived smoke particles is proposed; this model describes the smoke particles as chemically quasi-stable radially inhomogeneous layered spheres of condensed phosphoric acids. The dependence of phosphorus-derived smoke extinction on relative humidity is described, and extinction spectra taken over a 280-min time period show that the smoke evolves toward an o-phosphoric acid aerosol.

The relative humidity and time-dependent smoke extinction spectra are compared with o-phosphoric acid extinction spectra computed from Lorenz-Mie theory. The optical constants of the phosphorus-derived smoke are found from the extinction spectra as functions of relative humidity and time.

© 1982 Optical Society of America

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