The white phosphorus has a tetrahedral structure, like this:

white phosphorus structure [Image source: Wikipedia]

The red phosphorus, on the other hand, has a polymeric structure:

red phosphorus structure [Image source: google images]

Then what is the hybridisation state of P atoms in these allotropes?

For tetrahedral $\ce{P_4}$ in white phophorus, we can take $\ce{sp^3}$ hydbridisation, but some sites give information that P atom uses atomic 3p orbitals, as then the the angle strain is reduced from $\ce{109^\circ\rightarrow 60^\circ}$ to $\ce{90^\circ\rightarrow 60^\circ}$.

I can't find any website which gives information about the hybridisation state of red phosphorus. My chemistry textbook also does not give any information about this.

If you can give a reference to back up your answer, it would be useful to me.

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ Hybridisation is in our heads, not out there in the P allotropes. $\endgroup$ Oct 10, 2017 at 8:58
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ Related: Hybridization in PH3; Why is the bond angle H-P-H smaller than H-N-H? $\endgroup$ Oct 10, 2017 at 11:12
  • $\begingroup$ @IvanNeretin Here, I am considering that hybridization actually occurs in atoms, and trying to deduce whether the phosphorus atoms are hybridized or not. I don't understand why you say that hybridisation is in our heads; because atomic orbitals undergo hybridisation if it produces lower energy state, and it does explain many properties of compounds. $\endgroup$
    – S R Maiti
    Oct 29, 2017 at 3:28


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