Gallium is a soft silvery metal that occupies a place between indium and aluminum in the periodic table. A Russian scientist called Mendeleev discovered the metal in 1871. However, another scientist named Paul Emile Lecoq de Boisbaurdan confirmed its chemical properties and the periodic rank.
The metal doesn’t occur naturally; its primary sources are zinc ores and Bauxite, as these compounds contain a significant proportion of Gallium. Despite its rarity and complex production, the gallium price is not exceptionally higher. However, it is essential to know its chemical composition before its application.
Properties of Gallium
- Gallium has an atomic number of 31 and belongs to the 3A group in the periodic table.
- The melting point of the metal is 29 Celsius which is close to average room temperature; that is why it melts in a person’s hand.
- In contrast, the boiling point of Gallium is 2204 °C which is why it is best for making high-temperature thermometers.
- It has a good stability factor in water and air but reacts vigorously in alkalines and acids.
- It exhibits highly corrosive properties, which is why it makes low-melting point alloys. It is also used for liquid metal embrittlement because it seeps into cracks and spaces in metals like aluminum, zin-alloys, etc., reducing their strength.
- As compared to the metals of the 3A group, Gallium is less toxic, which is why it is widely used in different industries. But precautions are necessary.
- When it solidifies, the crustal is not a simple one but an orthorhombic with eight atoms in each unit cell. In simpler terms, it expands. Therefore, it must not be stored in a glass or rigid container.
- Gallium forms 31 different isotopes; however, Ga-71 and Ga-69 are the most abundant. Gallium 69 occupies 60.1 percent of the total Gallium, and Ga 71 makes up the rest (39.9%).
- Gallium isotopes are highly reactive, but they have smaller half-lives. However, the isotope Ga-67 has the most extended half-life. Additionally, isotopes (Gallium-67 and gallium-68) are widely used in nuclear medicine.
- Reacting Gallium with acids produces various gallium salts like gallium nitrate. In contrast, dissolving it in alkaline solutions forms gallate salts.
Does Gallium Have Any Harmful Effects?
The elemental Gallium doesn’t exhibit any toxic properties and is mainly used for savoring the pleasure of watching it melt. However, it leaves stains on the hands. Gallium is found in a minor proportion in human bodies, in waters, and in some vegetables. However, some gallium compounds are highly toxic.
Higher doses of injected Gallium react with the hydrochloric acid in the stomach, making toxic compounds. Prolonged exposure to Gallium also causes chest pain, throat irritation, and breathing issues.
Gallium is used in nuclear applications and mainly combines with plutonium to make bomb pits. However, Gallium reduces plutonium’s strength. The plutonium is reusable if the Gallium is separated. The downside of the removal process is that it significantly damages the environment.
How Do Online Sellers Ship Gallium?
Gallium expands on solidifying. Therefore, it is shipped in aluminum foil bags, transparent bags, steel drums, cardboard boxes, and fiber drums. Since the metal is dangerous, all sellers ship it by sea.
Gallium is a soft metal that melts in a person’s hand. It belongs to the 3A group in the periodic table and has various applications like mirror making, semiconductor chips, lubricating skis, medical uses, etc. However, knowing its chemical properties is essential so the compound can be put to its best use.
Gallium has a corrosive nature and dramatically weakens the lattice of other metals to lower their melting points. It also has nuclear applications; however, the processes damage the environment.