It’s elemental: Science and stories of gallium and the Periodic Table | The American Ceramic Society

It’s elemental: Science and stories of gallium and the Periodic Table

0202ctt periodic table lo res

[Image above] Credit: Reactions; YouTube

It’s rather amazing to contemplate the diversity of materials in this world—whether natural or manmade, materials can have such a vast array of properties.

For example, concrete is hard, tough, and durable—properties that make it well suited to help build most of the world’s infrastructure. But contrast concrete with cardiac tissue—a biomaterial that’s relatively delicate, squishy, flexible, and electrically conductive.

There’s incredible diversity in the properties of materials, and there’s similarly incredible diversity in the elements that are the building blocks of those materials.

And the Periodic Table of Elements does such a great job of neatly arranging the building blocks that sometimes we forget that there’s a lot of interesting stuff going on within that table.

For example, did you know that there’s an element that’s such a soft metal that it can be cut with a knife at room temperature? This metal also has one of the widest spans between its melting and boiling points—more than 3,900ºF.

Know which one I’m talking about?

Gallium is an interesting element—it will literally melt in your hand with a melting point of just 85.57ºF. But gallium will remain a liquid until temperatures reach its rather high boiling point of 3,999ºF.

And gallium isn’t just some dusty element sitting on a shelf—you probably use a form of gallium, gallium arsenide, nearly every day of your modern life. As a critical component of many electronics components, gallium’s reach stretches into most sectors of our modern lives.

Plus, gallium has quite the storied history. Watch this short ACS Reactions video to learn more about this interesting element and some of the history of the Periodic Table itself. And don’t miss the chance to learn how to make your own disappearing spoon—April Fool’s is just a couple of months away!

Credit: Reactions; YouTube

Did you find this article interesting? Subscribe to the Ceramic Tech Today newsletter to continue to read more articles about the latest news in the ceramic and glass industry! Visit this link to get started.

Share/Print