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silvery lustrous gray
General properties
Name, symbol, number antimony, Sb, 51
Element category metalloid
Group, period, block 155, p
Standard atomic weight 121.760(1)g·mol−1
Electron configuration [Kr] 4d10 5s2 5p3
Electrons per shell 2, 8, 18, 18, 5 (Image)
Physical properties
Phase solid
Density (near r.t.) 6.697 g·cm−3
Liquid density at m.p. 6.53 g·cm−3
Melting point 903.78 K, 630.63 °C, 1167.13 °F
Boiling point 1860 K, 1587 °C, 2889 °F
Heat of fusion 19.79 kJ·mol−1
Heat of vaporization 193.43 kJ·mol−1
Specific heat capacity (25 °C) 25.23 J·mol−1·K−1
Vapor pressure
P/Pa 1 10 100 1 k 10 k 100 k
at T/K 807 876 1011 1219 1491 1858
Atomic properties
Oxidation states 5, 3, -3
Electronegativity 2.05 (Pauling scale)
Ionization energies
1st: 834 kJ·mol−1
2nd: 1594.9 kJ·mol−1
3rd: 2440 kJ·mol−1
Atomic radius 140 pm
Covalent radius 139±5 pm
Van der Waals radius 206 pm
Crystal structure rhombohedral
Magnetic ordering diamagnetic[1]
Electrical resistivity (20 °C) 417 nΩ·m
Thermal conductivity (300 K) 24.4 W·m−1·K−1
Thermal expansion (25 °C) 11 µm·m−1·K−1
Speed of sound (thin rod) (20 °C) 3420 m/s
Young's modulus 55 GPa
Shear modulus 20 GPa
Bulk modulus 42 GPa
Mohs hardness 3.0
Brinell hardness 294 MPa
CAS registry number 7440-36-0
Most stable isotopes
Main article: Isotopes of antimony
iso NA half-life DM DE (MeV) DP
121Sb 57.36% 121Sb is stable with 70 neutrons
123Sb 42.64% 123Sb is stable with 72 neutrons
125Sb syn 2.7582 y β 0.767 125Te

Antimony (pronounced /ˈæntɨmɵnɪ/ AN-ti-mo-nee)[note 1] is a chemical element with the symbol Sb (Latin: stibium, meaning "mark") and atomic number 51. A metalloid, antimony has four allotropic forms. The stable form of antimony is a blue-white metalloid. Yellow and black antimony are unstable non-metals. Antimony is used in electronics and flame-proofing, in paints, rubber, ceramics, enamels, drugs to treat Leishmania infection and a wide variety of alloys.



Antimony in its elemental form is a silvery white, brittle, fusible, crystalline solid that exhibits poor electrical and heat conductivity properties and vaporizes at low temperatures. A metalloid, antimony resembles a metal in its appearance and in many of its physical properties, but does not chemically react as a metal. It is reactive with oxidizing acids and halogens. Antimony and some of its alloys are unusual in that they expand on cooling. Antimony is geochemically categorized as a chalcophile, occurring with sulfur and the heavy metals lead, copper, and silver.

The abundance of antimony in the Earth's crust is estimated at 0.2 to 0.5 parts per million.[2]


Antimony is increasingly being used in the semiconductor industry in the production of diodes, infrared detectors, and Hall-effect devices. As an alloy, this metalloid greatly increases lead's hardness and mechanical strength. The most important use of antimony is as a hardener in lead for storage batteries.[3] Uses include

Antimony compounds in the form of oxides, sulfides, sodium antimonate, and antimony trichloride are used in the making of flame-proofing compounds, ceramic enamels, glass, paints, and pottery. Antimony trioxide is the most important of the antimony compounds and is primarily used in flame-retardant formulations. These flame-retardant applications include such markets as children's clothing, toys, aircraft and automobile seat covers. It is also used in the fiberglass composites industry as an additive to polyester resins for such items as light aircraft engine covers. The resin will burn while a flame is held to it but will extinguish itself as soon as the flame is removed. Antimony sulfide is also one of the ingredients of safety matches.

In the 1950s, tiny beads of a lead-antimony alloy were used to dope the emitters and collectors of NPN alloy junction transistors with antimony.[10]

The natural sulfide of antimony, stibnite, was known and used in Biblical times, as a medication and in Islamic/Pre-Islamic times as a cosmetic. The Sunan Abi Dawood reports, “Muhammad said: 'Among the best types of collyrium is antimony (ithmid) for it clears the vision and makes the hair sprout.'”[11]

Stibnite is still used in some developing countries as a medication. Antimony has been used for the treatment of schistosomiasis. Antimony attaches itself to sulfur atoms in certain enzymes which are used by both the parasite and human host. Small doses can kill the parasite without causing damage to the patient. Antimony and its compounds are used in several veterinary preparations like Anthiomaline or Lithium antimony thiomalate, which is used as a skin conditioner in ruminants. Antimony has a nourishing or conditioning effect on keratinized tissues, at least in animals. Tartar emetic is another antimony preparation which is used as an anti-schistosomal drug. Treatments chiefly involving antimony have been called antimonials.

Antimony-based drugs such as meglumine antimoniate, is also considered the drugs of choice for the treatment of leishmaniasis in domestic animals. Unfortunately, as well as having low therapeutic indices, the drugs are poor at penetrating the bone marrow, where some of the Leishmania amastigotes reside, and so cure of the disease - especially the visceral form - is very difficult.

A coin made of antimony was issued in the Keichow Province of China in 1931. The coins were not popular, being too soft and they wore quickly when in circulation. After the first issue no others were produced.[12]


The ancient words for antimony mostly have, as their chief meaning, kohl, the sulfide of antimony. Pliny the Elder, however, distinguishes between male and female forms of antimony; his male form is probably the sulfide, the female form, which is superior, heavier, and less friable, is probably native metallic antimony.[13]

The Egyptians called antimony mśdmt; in hieroglyphics, the vowels are uncertain, but there is an Arabic tradition that the word is mesdemet.[14][15] The Greek word, stimmi, is probably a loan word from Arabic or Egyptian, and is used by the Attic tragic poets of the 5th century BC; later Greeks also used stibi, as did Celsus and Pliny, writing in Latin, in the first century AD. Pliny also gives the names stimi [sic], larbaris, alabaster, and the "very common" platyophthalmos, "wide-eye" (from the effect of the cosmetic). Later Latin authors adapted the word to Latin as stibium. The Arabic word for the substance, as opposed to the cosmetic, can appear as ithmid, athmoud, othmod, or uthmod. Littré suggests the first form, which is the earliest, derives from stimmida, (one) accusative for stimmi.[16]

The use of Sb as the standard chemical symbol for antimony is due to the 18th century chemical pioneer, Jöns Jakob Berzelius, who used this abbreviation of the name stibium.

A clear vial containing small chunks of a slightly lustrous black solid, labeled "Sb".
A vial containing a black allotrope of antimony

The medieval Latin form, from which the modern languages and late Byzantine Greek, take their names, is antimonium. The origin of this is uncertain; all suggestions have some difficulty either of form or interpretation. The popular etymology, from anti-monachos or French antimoine, still has adherents; this would mean "monk-killer", and is explained by many early alchemists being monks, and antimony being poisonous.[note 2] So does the hypothetical Greek word antimonos, "against one", explained as "not found as metal", or "not found unalloyed".[17][18] Lippmann conjectured a Greek word, anthemonion, which would mean "floret", and he cites several examples of related Greek words (but not that one) which describe chemical or biological efflorescence.[19]

The early uses of antimonium include the translations, in 1050-1100, by Constantine the African of Arabic medical treatises.[20] Several authorities believe that antimonium is a scribal corruption of some Arabic form; Meyerhof derives it from ithmid;[21] other possibilities include Athimar, the Arabic name of the metal, and a hypothetical *as-stimmi, derived from or parallel to the Greek.[22]


An unshaded circle surmounted by a cross.
One of the alchemical symbols for antimony
An irregular piece of silvery stone with spots of variation in lustre and shade.
Native massive antimony with oxidation products

Antimony's sulfide compound, antimony(III) trisulfide, Sb2S3 was recognized in antiquity, at least as early as 3000 BC. Pastes of Sb2S3 powder in fat[23] or in other materials have been used since that date as eye cosmetics in the Middle East and farther afield; in this use, Sb2S3 is called kohl. It was used to darken the brows and lashes, or to draw a line around the perimeter of the eye.

An artifact made of antimony dating to about 3000 BC was found at Tello, Chaldea (part of present-day Iraq), and a copper object plated with antimony dating between 2500 BC and 2200 BC has been found in Egypt.[18] There is some uncertainty as to the description of the artifact from Tello. Although it is sometimes reported to be a vase, a recent detailed discussion reports it to be rather a fragment of indeterminate purpose.[24] The first European description of a procedure for isolating antimony is in the book De la pirotechnia of 1540 by Vannoccio Biringuccio, written in Italian. This book precedes the more famous 1556 book in Latin by Agricola, De re metallica, even though Agricola has been often incorrectly credited with the discovery of metallic antimony. A text describing the preparation of metallic antimony that was published in Germany in 1604 purported to date from the early fifteenth century, and if authentic it would predate Biringuccio. The book, written in Latin, was called "Currus Triumphalis Antimonii" (The Triumphal Chariot of Antimony), and its putative author was a certain Benedictine monk, writing under the name Basilius Valentinus. Already in 1710 Wilhelm Gottlob Freiherr von Leibniz, after careful inquiry, concluded that the work was spurious, that there was no monk named Basilius Valentinus, and the book's author was its ostensible editor, Johann Thölde (ca. 1565-ca. 1624). There is now agreement among professional historians that the Currus Triumphalis... was written after the middle of the sixteenth century and that Thölde was likely its author.[23][25] An English translation of the "Currus Triumphalis" appeared in English in 1660, under the title The Triumphant Chariot of Antimony. The work remains of great interest, chiefly because it documents how followers of the renegade German physician, Philippus Theophrastus Paracelsus von Hohenheim (of whom Thölde was one), came to associate the practice of alchemy with the preparation of chemical medicines.

According to the traditional history of Middle Eastern alchemy, pure antimony was well known to Geber, sometimes called "the Father of Chemistry", in the 8th century. Here there is still an open controversy: Marcellin Berthelot, who translated a number of Geber's books, stated that antimony is never mentioned in them, but other authors[26] claim that Berthelot translated only some of the less important books, while the more interesting ones (some of which might describe antimony) are not yet translated, and their content is completely unknown.

The first natural occurrence of pure antimony ('native antimony') in the Earth's crust was described by the Swedish scientist and local mine district engineer Anton von Swab in 1783. The type-sample was collected from the Sala Silvermine in the Bergslagen mining district of Sala, Västmanland, Sweden.[27]


Antimony output in 2005
World production trend of antimony

Even though this element is not abundant, it is found in over 100 mineral species. Antimony is sometimes found native, but more frequently it is found in the sulfide stibnite (Sb2S3) which is the predominant ore mineral. Commercial forms of antimony are generally ingots, broken pieces, granules, and cast cake. Other forms are powder, shot, and single crystals.

In 2005, China was the top producer of antimony with about 84% world share followed at a distance by South Africa, Bolivia and Tajikistan, reports the British Geological Survey. The mine with the largest deposites in China is Xikuangshan mine in Hunan Province with a estimated deposit of 2.1 million metric tons.[28]

Country Tonnes  % of total
 People's Republic of China 126,000 84.0
 South Africa 6,000 4.0
 Bolivia 5,225 3.5
 Tajikistan 4,073 2.7
 Russia 3,000 2.0
Top 5 144,298 96.2
Total world 150,000 100.0

Chiffres de 2003, métal contenue dans les minerais et concentrés, source: L'état du monde 2005 (French)


Antimony and many of its compounds are toxic. Clinically, antimony poisoning is very similar to arsenic poisoning. In small doses, antimony causes headache, dizziness, and depression. Larger doses cause violent and frequent vomiting, and will lead to death in a few days.

Antimony leaches from polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles into liquids. While levels observed for bottled water are below drinking water guidelines,[29][30] fruit juice concentrates (for which no guidelines are established) produced in the UK were found to contain up to 44.7 µg/L of Antimony, well above the EU limits for tap water of 5 µg/L.[31][32] The guidelines are:


Important compounds of antimony include:

See also


  1. ^ In the UK, the variable vowel /ɵ/ is usually pronounced as a schwa [ə]; in the US, it is generally a full [oʊ].
  2. ^ The use of a symbol resembling an upside down "female" symbol for antimony could also hint at a satirical pun in this origin


  1. ^ Magnetic susceptibility of the elements and inorganic compounds, in Handbook of Chemistry and Physics 81st edition, CRC press.
  2. ^ "Antimony Statistics and Information". United States Geological Survey. 2009-01-31. Retrieved 2009-04-15. 
  3. ^ Kiehne, Heinz Albert (2003). "Types of Alloys". Battery technology handbook. CRC Press. pp. 60–61. ISBN 9780824742492. 
  4. ^ Williams, Robert S. (2007). Principles of Metallography. Read books. pp. 46–47. ISBN 9781406746716. 
  5. ^ National Research Council (1970). Trends in usage of antimony: report. National Academies. p. 50. 
  6. ^ Ipser, H.; Flandorfer, H.; Luef, Ch.; Schmetterer, C.; Saeed, U. (2007). "Thermodynamics and phase diagrams of lead-free solder materials". Journal of Materials Science: Materials in Electronics 18: 3-17. doi:10.1007/s10854-006-9009-3. 
  7. ^ Holmyard, E. J. (2008). Inorganic Chemistry - A Textbooks for Colleges and Schools. pp. 399–400. ISBN 9781443722537. 
  8. ^ Hull, Charles (1992). Pewter. Osprey Publishing. p. 1–5. ISBN 9780747801528. 
  9. ^ O'Mara, William C.; Herring, Robert B.; Hunt, Lee Philip (1990). Handbook of semiconductor silicon technology. William Andrew. p. 473. ISBN 0815512376. 
  10. ^ Maiti,, C. K. (2008). Selected Works of Professor Herbert Kroemer. World Scientific, 2008. p. 101. ISBN 9812709010. 
  11. ^ Sunan Abu-Dawud (Ahmad Hasan translation). Book 32, Number 4050. 
  12. ^ "Metals Used in Coins and Medals". Retrieved 2009-10-16. 
  13. ^ Pliny, Natural history, 33.33; W.H.S. Jones, the Loeb Classical Library translator, supplies a note suggesting the identifications.
  14. ^ Albright, W. F. (1918). "Notes on Egypto-Semitic Etymology. II". The American Journal of Semitic Languages and Literatures 34 (4): 230. 
  15. ^ Sarton, George (1935). "Review of Al-morchid fi'l-kohhl, ou Le guide d'oculistique, translated by Max Meyerhof" (in French). Isis 22 (2): 541.  quotes Meyerhof, the translator of the book he is reviewing.
  16. ^ LSJ, s.v., vocalisation, spelling, and declension vary; Endlich, p.28; Celsus, 6.6.6 ff; Pliny Natural History 33.33; Lewis and Short: Latin Dictionary. OED, s. "antimony".
  17. ^ Diana Fernando, Alchemy : an illustrated A to Z (1998). Fernando even derives it from the story of how "Basil Valentine" and his fellow monastic alchemists poisoned themselves by working with antimony; antimonium is found two centuries before his time. "Popular etymology" from OED; as for antimonos, the pure negative would be more naturally expressed by a- "not".
  18. ^ a b Kirk-Othmer Encyclopedia of Chemical Technology, 5th ed. 2004. Entry for antimony.
  19. ^ Lippman, p.643-5
  20. ^ Lippman, p.642, writing in 1919, says "zuerst".
  21. ^ Meyerhof as quoted in Sarton, asserts that ithmid or athmoud became corrupted in the medieval "traductions barbaro-latines".; the OED asserts that some Arabic form is the origin, and if ithmid is the root, posits athimodium, atimodium, atimonium, as intermediate forms.
  22. ^ Endlich, p.28; one of the advantages of as-stimmi would be that it has a whole syllable in common with antimonium.
  23. ^ a b Priesner, Claus and Figala, Karin, ed (1998) (in German). Alchemie. Lexikon einer hermetischen Wissenschaft. München: C.H. Beck. 
  24. ^ The fragment was presented in a lecture in 1892. One contemporary commented, "we only know of antimony at the present day as a highly brittle and crystalline metal, which could hardly be fashioned into a useful vase, and therefore this remarkable 'find' must represent the lost art of rendering antimony malleable." Moorey, P. R. S. (1994). Ancient Mesopotamian Materials and Industries: the Archaeological Evidence. New York: Clarendon Press. p. 241. 
  25. ^ s.v. "Basilius Valentinus." Harold Jantz was perhaps the only modern scholar to deny Thölde's authorship, but he too agrees that the work dates from after 1550: see his catalogue of German Baroque literature.
  26. ^ the late William Cecil Dampier. (1961). A history of science and its relations with philosophy & religion.. London: Cambridge U.P.. p. 73. ISBN 9780521093668. 
  27. ^ "Native antimony". Retrieved 2010-01-25. 
  28. ^ Peng, J (2003). "Samarium–neodymium isotope systematics of hydrothermal calcites from the Xikuangshan antimony deposit (Hunan, China): the potential of calcite as a geochronometer". Chemical Geology 200: 129. doi:10.1016/S0009-2541(03)00187-6. 
  29. ^ a b Shotyk, W.; Krachler, M.; Chen, B. (2006). "Contamination of Canadian and European bottled waters with antimony from PET containers.". Journal of environmental monitoring : JEM 8 (2): 288–92. doi:10.1039/b517844b. ISSN 1464-0325. PMID 16470261. 
  30. ^ "London Free Press:". Retrieved 2008-09-12. 
  31. ^ Hansen, Claus (17. February 2010). "Elevated antimony concentrations in commercial juices". Journal of Environmental Monitoring. Retrieved 2010-03-01. 
  32. ^ Borland, Sophie (1. March 2010). "Fruit juice cancer warning as scientists find harmful chemical in 16 drinks". Daily Mail. Retrieved 2010-03-01. 
  33. ^ Wakayama, Hiroshi, "Revision of Drinking Water Standards in Japan", Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare (Japan), 2003; Table 2, p. 84


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Simple English

[[File:|thumb|Antimony crystal]] Antimony is a chemical element. It has the chemical symbol Sb. The symbol Sb is from the Latin name of 'stibium' for the element. It has the atomic number 51. Its atomic mass is 121.8. It is a blue-gray element that is somewhat toxic.



Physical properties

[[File:|thumb|Powdered antimony]] Antimony has four allotropes. The common allotrope of antimony is a blue-white metalloid. It looks black when powdered. It is brittle, soft, and shiny. Yellow and black antimony are unstable nonmetals. Yellow antimony is only found at very cold temperatures. It is made by oxidation of stibine. It turns into black antimony when light is shined on it or when it is warmer. Black antimony is normally made by heating metallic antimony until it boils and then cooling the vapors very quickly. It can ignite spontaneously (without any ignition source like a spark or a flame). It also corrodes easily. There is another explosive form of antimony that is made by electrolysis of antimony trichloride. This antimony explodes when changing into the metallic form. There is no chemical reaction; the atoms in the antimony crystal are rearranging themselves. When antimony is talked about it normally means the blue-white metalloid form, since it is most common.

Antimony is found as two stable (not radioactive) isotopes naturally.

Chemical properties

Antimony is a rather unreactive element. It does not dissolve in acids easily. It can dissolve in oxidizing acids like nitric or sulfuric acid. It does not corrode easily in air, although the black allotrope can corrode. Antimony burns in air to make antimony trioxide. In excess air, it burns to antimony tetroxide.

Chemical compounds

Antimony forms chemical compounds in three oxidation states: -3, +3, and +5. -3 compounds are called antimonides. They are made by reacting antimony with other metals. They react with acids to make the toxic and unstable gas stibine. +3 compounds are the most common. They are weak oxidizing agents. They are somewhat covalent, having low melting points. Antimony trichloride is a colorless and soft solid that has a strong odor. Antimony trioxide is a white solid that dissolves a little in water. The other antimony(III) halides all react with water except for antimony trifluoride. +5 compounds are strong oxidizing agents. Antimony pentafluoride is highly reactive, as well as antimony pentoxide.


Antimony sulfide was known for a long time. Some things plated with antimony and made out of antimony were found in Egypt and Chaldea. The first time antimony was mentioned in Europe was in the 1540. The first native antimony was found in Sweden in 1783. Antimony sulfide and antimony were confused sometimes in antiquity. There is a question over what "stibium", the original name of antimony, meant.


Stibnite, an antimony sulfide mineral

Antimony is not common. It is found about as often as thallium. It is quite easy to get, though and found in many minerals. Antimony is sometimes found as an element, but normally it is found as stibnite, an antimony sulfide mineral. Stibnite is the main ore of antimony. China is the biggest maker of antimony; it makes 84% of all antimony. Other countries that make antimony are South Africa, Bolivia, and Tajikistan. Antimony is not used in the human body.


Antimony is made from stibnite by heating it with air. This makes antimony trioxide. Since it gets so hot, the antimony trioxide is evaporated. Other metal oxides in the stibnite ore do not evaporate. The antimony trioxide gas is condensed in a container. The antimony trioxide is then heated with carbon to make carbon dioxide and antimony. Another way to make antimony is to heat stibnite with scrap iron. This makes iron(II) sulfide and antimony. The antimony is separated and used.


About half of all antimony is used to make antimony trioxide for flame proofing.

It makes an alloy with lead. This alloy, 5% antimony and 95% lead, is harder than pure lead. It is used in lead acid batteries, as well as some other things. It is used as an alloy with lead in the pipes of pipe organs. Pewter has antimony in it. Some lead-free solder has antimony in it. It is used as an alloy with lead in ammunition for small arms and in covering of cables as well. It is also used in some alloys that have very little friction like Babbitt metal.

Another use is in a catalyst for making some plastics. Antimony(III) oxide is added to some glass to remove bubbles for things like television screens. Antimony is used as a dopant in electronics. Some antimony compounds were used as medicines to kill protozoans. The antimony pill was a chunk of antimony that was supposed to heal diseases. It is used in medicines for pets. Antimony sulfide is used in matches.


Antimony is toxic. Its toxicity is similar to arsenic, although it is less toxic than arsenic. Breathing in antimony dust can be very dangerous. Antimony reacts with strong oxidizing agents. Small amounts of antimony come out of plastic bottles where antimony was used as a catalyst. Some people were concerned that too much antimony was coming out.


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