# Can the molecule POOF exist?

Obviously, it really would be $$\ce{O=P-O-F}$$. Since $$\ce{F-O-O-F}$$ exists the $$\ce{-O-F}$$ part is obviously possible and the rest of it doesn't strike me as unreasonable, but whether it can actually hold together is way beyond my knowledge. That $$\ce{-O-F}$$ says it would be some nasty stuff if it exists at all.

• Almost certainly the proposed structure would be extremely unstable to rearrangement - there would be no O-F bond, and instead all atoms would be directly bound to phosphorus. – Nicolau Saker Neto Sep 12 '20 at 5:11
• Being a native of Ohio, I was disappointed to learn that HIO2 apparently does not exist. Like POOF, the structure of iodous acid would not be accurately rendered by OHIO, but still ... . – Oscar Lanzi Sep 12 '20 at 12:34
• @OscarLanzi in a paper, it is formulated as HOIO and some research is also going on: here and here. – Nilay Ghosh Sep 12 '20 at 13:06
• @NicolauSakerNeto I'm sure it's unstable if it exists at all, it would be quite prone to going poof (or more likely BANG!) – Loren Pechtel Sep 12 '20 at 18:06

There exists related anions called monofluorophosphate ion ($$\ce{PO3F^2-}$$) and difluorophosphate ion, ($$\ce{PO2F2-}$$). The hypothetical neutral compound, $$\ce{PO2F}$$ is called phosphenic fluoride. It is also observed that irradiating potassium difluorophosphate with gamma rays create free radicals $$\ce{PO2F^{.−}, PO3F^{.−} and PO2F2^.}$$.

Moreover, there also exist a polymer $$\ce{(PO2F)_n}$$ which is a decomposition product of a white solid of composition $$\ce{P7O10F15}$$. It was apparently named polymeric phosphorus oxyfluoride species. Its structure has been proposed by Wannagat and Rademachers1:

It is suggested that the parent ions of Group I result from the simple ionization of a linear polymer with the general formula, $$\ce{(PO2F)_n}$$, where each of the terminal phosphorus atoms of the chain is bonded to two oxygen atoms, one of which is a bridging atom, and to two fluorine atoms.

Conclusion: There is no such compound called POOF, but there certainly is a radical ion and a polymer of exact formula.

Notes and References

1. High molecular weight phosphorus oxyfluorides by D.W.Muenow, O.M.Uy, J.L.Margrave, Journal of Inorganic and Nuclear Chemistry, Volume 31, Issue 11, November 1969, Pages 3411-3415, DOI: 10.1016/0022-1902(69)80324-6
2. Other decomposition products were $$\ce{PF5, POF3}$$ and $$\ce{P2O3F4}$$: Technique of Inorganic Chemistry, Hans Boegh Jonassen, Arnold Weissberger Volume 1 Interscience Publishers, 1963
• What am I missing? Why would PO2F be a radical ion and not neutral? – Loren Pechtel Sep 13 '20 at 17:40