Top 20 Fun Facts About Gallium In 2023
Written by Serene Joshua, contributing writer
Did you know that gallium can be used to make mirrors?
Written by Serene Joshua, contributing writer
We’re sure that most of you are aware of most chemical elements in the periodic table like hydrogen, oxygen, silver and the like but have you ever noticed Gallium? It’s the atomic number 31 and is represented by the symbol “Ga”.
Well, if you have come across this element then you must be aware of how interesting and different it is from the other elements!
What is gallium?
Gallium is a silvery and soft metal with a low melting point and a very high boiling point.
It’s a very unique element in the periodic table and is also getting more popular now as it is used to make various electronic devices.
What is gallium used for?
It also holds interesting properties that make it different from other metals – it’s very soft and melts easily and can be used to make mirrors.
Sounds interesting right?
Well, read on as we take you through the top 20 fun facts about gallium which will give you an insight into how cool this metal is.
Top 20 fun facts about gallium in 2023
1. Gallium cannot be found freely in nature
Gallium is never found on its own in nature, rather it is found in small amounts in various other compounds like Bauxite and Zinc ores.
2. It makes up about 0.0019 per cent of Earth’s crust
It is found in traces in various other metals on the Crust of the Earth and can be obtained through smelting, which is how gallium is obtained from an ore.
3. It is a post-transition metal
This essentially means that Gallium belongs to a group of metals that are soft, have poor strength and most importantly have low melting points. Some other post-transitional metals are aluminium, indium and thallium.
4. Gallium’s boiling point is quite high
Gallium has a boiling point of 2,403 °C, which is really high!
5. It’s a smart metal
Gallium is most widely used to make smartphones and other electronics
6. Liquid gallium can be quite difficult to work with
Gallium is difficult to work with as it sticks to skin and glass and is hard to remove.
7. It is also used in some medicines
Gallium is used in some medication that helps with Calcium and bone-related problems
8. Liquid gallium cannot be kept in a glass or metal container
When Gallium solidifies it expands, so the glass or metal will break.
9. You can make a mirror out of gallium
After you melt gallium, you can paint it on a surface and since it is shiny it can act as a mirror!
10. It is used in thermometers
Due to its liquid range, low melting pointing and high boiling point, it is used as a non-toxic replacement for mercury.
11. It forms alloys with most metals
Gallium easily blends with other metals due to its properties and how easily it melts
12. It can melt in your hand
The melting point of gallium is 29.77°C, which is close to room temperature, so if you were to close your hand around it the heat from your hand will melt it!
13. Small bits of Gallium were found in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans
14. It is separated by smelting
Smelting is done by applying heat to an ore, and when this is done Gallium is extracted.
15. Gallium is a weird metal
Although Gallium is a metal it is very soft and can be cut with a knife and melts easily.
16. It has a bright future
Gallium has a property called gallium nitride, which is useful for electronics. With more electronics being produced in the future, there is more scope for gallium.
17. It can supercool
Gallium supercools! This means that it can be cooled below the point that it freezes without turning into solid
18. It has an interesting name origin
Boisbaudran, the chemist who discovered gallium, named it after ‘Gaul’ which is the Latin for France, his home country.
19. It can also be used for lights
Gallium is the main element used in LED lights. It produces different coloured lights when given an electric current.
20. It is said to have anti-cancer properties
Some studies show that gallium nitrate can reduce the growth of cancer cells in certain cancers. This is still in the clinical trials stage.
Where is Gallium found?
As mentioned before, Gallium cannot be found in its basic form in nature like gold or silver which are elements that you can find in nature.
Gallium is found in very small amounts on the Earth’s crust, which is the topmost layer of the planet. It’s less than 19 parts per million.
Instead, it is found as part of other metals like Zinc or aluminium and can be obtained as a by-product when these metals are mined.
Who discovered gallium?
Paul-Emile Lecoq de Boisbaudran accidentally stumbled upon Gallium through a method called atomic.
Sounds complicated? Let us break it down for you.
Atomic spectroscopy is when you analyse the electromagnetic radiation (which is a type of energy) that atoms in a particular element absorb and give out. Each atom absorbs and emits unique electromagnetic radiation. As it is different for each element, it can be used to identify and detect various elements.
Now, let’s get back to gallium.
Boisbaudran was performing atomic spectroscopy, he noticed weird results while analysing some material that he separated from Zinc. Since it did not match the previous atomic spectroscopy information he found from zinc, he knew that there existed an element which wasn’t known. He then separated this metal from the Zinc and studied it and discovered that it was like aluminium but not aluminium
He then separated this metal from the Zinc, studied it, and discovered that it was like aluminium but not aluminium. He realised he discovered a new metal and named it Gallium!
But, here’s a little unknown fun fact about Gallium and its discovery – in 1871, four years before Boisbaudran stumbled upon gallium, a Russian chemist named Dmitri Mendeleev, had already spoken about the possibility of this metal being discovered.
Dmitri Mendeleev is best known for inventing the periodic table. So, on his periodic table, he noticed there was a gap and he named the missing element eka- aluminium because it was one position away from aluminium and a lot like aluminium. He predicted that the properties of eka-aluminium would be very similar to gallium and even that it would be found through spectroscopy.
And just like he predicted, it was later discovered in 1875 by Boisbaudran.
So, now that you know all about gallium we’re sure you’ll agree that it’s a pretty cool element, so if you ever get a chance to hold it, maybe try melting it in your hand or …. making a mirror?
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