Gallium is the 31st element of the periodic table. It is present in electronic gadgets that we use everyday like microwaves, cell phones, other wireless communication devices, and other consumer applications. Yet, we don’t know much about this wonderful element. So, today let’s learn about gallium facts. Let us begin.
Before we begin our gallium facts, let us take a look at the isotopes of gallium.
|Isotope Name||Type and Abundance||Half-Life (HL)|
|69Ga||Stable, 60.11% abundance||Stable, so no HL|
|71Ga||Stable, 39.89% abundance||Stable, so no HL|
N/A: Data Not Available
ms: mili seconds
μs: micro seconds
Now that we learnt about the isotopes of gallium, let us now move on to gallium facts. Are you ready?
Gallium Facts 1-9
1. The atomic number of gallium is 31. The atomic weight of gallium is 69.723. It belongs to group 13 or boron group. It belongs to period 4 and p-block.
2. The electronic configuration of gallium is 1s2 2s2 2p6 3s2 3p6 3d10 4s2 4p1 or [Ar] 3d10 4s2 4p1. It is silvery blue.
3. At STP (Standard Temperature and Pressure), gallium stays solid. It has a density of 5.91 g/cm3. The electronegativity of gallium is 1.81 on Pauling scale.
4. It has a melting point of 302.9146 K (29.7646 °C, 85.5763 °F). The boiling point of gallium is 2673 K (2400 °C, 4352 °F). It has an atomic radius of 135 picometers.
5. It is a post-transition metal meaning it is located between transition metals and metalloids or non-metals. It has properties of both non-metals and transition metals. It is softer and conducts poorly.
6. It has a primordial natural occurrence. The crystal structure of gallium is orthorhombic. It is a diamagnetic metal.
7. It has a Young’s modulus of 9.8 GPa. The Brinell hardness is 56.8 to 68.7 MPa and the Mohs hardness is 1.5.
8. Gallium is not present in elemental form but it can be obtained by smelting. Very pure gallium is brittle and breaks like a glass. At high temperatures, it has a low vapor pressure.
9. Gallium expands when it solidifies by 3.1%. So, it is important not to store liquid gallium in metal or glass containers because the containers would break when gallium changes state.
Gallium Facts 10-18
10. Gallium diffuses into other metal’s lattice or framework easily and makes them brittle. It alloys with metals easily.
11. There are four non-radioactive metals that are liquid at normal or near normal room temperatures. They are caesium, rubidium, mercury, and gallium. Gallium is neither highly reactive as caesium and rubidium nor highly toxic like mercury. Hence, it is used in metal-in-glass high-temperature thermometers.
12. Did you know that gallium melts in your hands? Once you transfer the metal back into its place, it solidifies. Even if it is solid, it is so soft that you can cut the metal with a knife, just like lithium.
13. It is found as a trace element in ores like diaspore, sphalerite, germanite, coal, and bauxite. The dust that comes from burning coal may contain around 1.5% gallium.
14. Gallium is found in -5, -4, -3, -2, -1, +1, +2, and +3 oxidation states. Of all the oxidation states, +3 is the most common oxidation state.
15. Strong acids and alkaline hydroxide solutions can easily dissolve. Gallium reacts with chalcogens (oxygen family elements) at high temperatures only.
16. Due to the presence of a protective oxide layer, gallium doesn’t react with air or water at room temperature. However, at higher temperatures, gallium reacts with atmospheric oxygen and forms gallium oxide (Ga2O3).
17. When Ga2O3 is reduced with elemental gallium at around 500 degrees Celsius to 700 degrees Celsius produces gallium oxide (Ga2O). It is strong reducing agent that can reduce sulfuric acid. Ga2O disintegrates to Ga2O3 and gallium.
18. Gallium forms sulfides both at higher and lower oxidation states. Gallium also reacts with nitrides, phosphorus, antimony, and arsenic. It also reacts with halides and hydrides.
Gallium Facts 19-27
19. Dmitri Mendeleev, a Russian chemist, predicted the existence of gallium. He named gallium as ‘eka-aluminum’ on the basis of the periodic table.
20. He even predicted the properties of ‘eka-aluminum’ like density, atomic weight, melting point, density of oxide, formula of oxide, and nature of hydroxide. It is surprising that the properties of ‘eka-aluminum’ and gallium are more or less same.
21. He further predicted that the element gallium (eka-aluminum) would be discovered by spectroscope. He even predicted that the element would not react with air and would dissolve in both acids and alkalis.
22. As Mendeleev predicted, gallium was discovered using spectroscopy by Paul Emile Lecoq de Boisbaudran, a French chemist in 1875 from a sample of sphalerite.
23. He obtained the free metal via electrolysis of hydroxide in the solution of potassium hydroxide.
24. He named the element after Gaul which is the native land of France. He didn’t name the element gallium but named it as gallia (In Latin, Gallia means Gaul).
25. Before the era of semiconductors, the main uses of gallium were metal alloys and high-temperature thermometers.
26. In the 1960s, development of gallium arsenide as direct bandgap semiconductor changed the way gallium was used post discovery.
27. 98% of the gallium is presently used in semiconductors. 99.99% pure gallium is used in semiconductor industry.
Gallium Facts 28-36
28. As of 2007, 98% of the gallium consumption in the USA is represented by gallium arsenide and gallium nitride (both are used in electronic components).
29. In the US, 66% of semiconductor gallium is used in integrated circuits like low-wave microwave preamplifiers, ultra-high-speed logic chips, etc. 20% of gallium is used in optoelectronics.
30. Gallium arsenide makes up nearly 95% of the world’s gallium consumption every year. 53% of it came from cell phones, 27% from wireless communications, and the rest of it from consumer, automotive, fiber-optic, and military applications.
31. The use of gallium arsenide has increased recently due to the emergence of 3G and 4G mobile phones which use nearly 10 times of gallium arsenide than the old model phones.
32. High-power infrared laser diodes makes use of aluminum gallium arsenide. Blue and violet optoelectronic devices use indium gallium nitride and gallium nitride semiconductors.
33. Satellites, commercial wireless infrastructure, cable television transmission, and power electronics also use gallium nitride.
34. Gallium is used to make amazing mirrors.
35. There is no natural function of gallium in our body. However, gallium ions interact with body in similar fashion as the iron ions. Gallium salts are either used or in the process of being used in radiopharmaceuticals and pharmaceuticals.
36. Some compounds of gallium have shown anti-cancer properties. As per clinical trials, Gallium nitrate is shown to have antineoplastic activity against urothelial cancer and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Gallium Facts 37-45
37. Gallium nitrate is used as an intravenous medicine to treat hypercalcemia related with tumor metastasis to bones.
38. Gallium maltolate acts as an anti-proliferative to pathologically proliferating cells especially cancer cells and few of the bacteria that accept it in the place of iron ions, die. It is seen that gallium interferes with respiration and iron (redox-active) allows the transfer of electrons during respiration whereas gallium doesn’t (it is redox-inactive).
39. A compound of gallium, MR045, is toxic to parasites that are resistant to chloroquine.
40. Gallium nitrate and gallium citrate are used as radiopharmaceutical agents in nuclear medicine imaging called gallium scan.
41. The body reacts and interacts with gallium ions as it reacts and interacts with iron ions. The gallium ions attach themselves to places where there is rapid cell division (which happens in cancer cases) or in areas of inflammation (where an infection is present).
43. The countries that produce gallium the most are Australia, France, Russia, and Germany.
44. The cost of pure gallium is $220 per 100 grams or $2,200 per kilogram.
45. Did you know that gallium is used in nuclear bombs to stabilize the crystal structure?