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What is antimony tribromide?

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Quick Answer

Antimony tribromide is a chemical compound that is used in industry as a dye setter and to make other antimony compounds. It is composed of three atoms of bromine and one atom of antimony in its +3 oxidation state.

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As a solid, antimony tribromide is a yellow crystalline color. It is not combustible, but when exposed to water the compound can decompose into hydrobromic acid and antimony oxide, the latter of which can be ignited by heat in open air.

Antimony tribromide can be synthesized by the reaction of antimony trioxide with hydrobromic acid, or by the reaction of antimony with elemental bromine. Additionally, at a temperature of 250 degrees Celsius, it can also be synthesized by adding bromine to a mixture of antimony sulfide and antimony trioxide.

When added to synthetic polymers, such as polyethylene, the compound serves as a fire retardant. When added to dyes, antimony tribromide acts as a bonding agent between the dye compounds and fabric, resulting in a more colorfast final product.

According to the CAMEO chemical data sheet posted on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's website, when working with antimony tribromide handlers should use gloves, dust-proof clothing, goggles, and, in areas of elevated atmospheric pressure, respirators.

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