Gallium

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Gallium

This is gallium.

Symbol Ga
Atomic number 31
Atomic mass 69.72 amu

Gallium was discovered in 1875.

Distinguishing properties

It has the largest liquid temperature range of any element. It melts a few degrees less than body temperature but does not boil until 2403°C. It is one of the few that expands as it freezes, as do nonmetals and most gases. Its high boiling point makes it ideal for measuring temperatures that would vaporize a thermometer.

Occurrence

Gallium is found as trace-level impurities in the ores of aluminum and zinc. It can be prepared by electrolysis of aqueous solutions of their soluble salts.

Usage

Most of the gallium produced are used in the electronics industry. Alloyed with phosphorus, antimony, or arsenic, gallium is fabricated into a wide range of semiconductor devices. The use of Gallium-arsenide GaAs semiconductors improves the efficiency of computer chips. Devices which incorporate the use of GaAs semiconductors include:

  • calculators
  • wristwatches
  • solar panels
  • smaller and more powerful lasers

See also

Periodic table of the elements