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silvery white
General properties
Name, symbol, number gallium, Ga, 31
Element category post-transition metal
Group, period, block 134, p
Standard atomic weight 69.723(1)g·mol−1
Electron configuration [Ar] 3d10 4s2 4p1
Electrons per shell 2, 8, 18, 3 (Image)
Physical properties
Phase solid
Density (near r.t.) 5.91 g·cm−3
Liquid density at m.p. 6.095 g·cm−3
Melting point 302.9146 K, 29.7646 °C, 85.5763 °F
Boiling point 2477 K, 2204 °C, 3999 °F
Heat of fusion 5.59 kJ·mol−1
Heat of vaporization 254 kJ·mol−1
Specific heat capacity (25 °C) 25.86 J·mol−1·K−1
Vapor pressure
P/Pa 1 10 100 1 k 10 k 100 k
at T/K 1310 1448 1620 1838 2125 2518
Atomic properties
Oxidation states 3, 2, 1
(amphoteric oxide)
Electronegativity 1.81 (Pauling scale)
Ionization energies
1st: 578.8 kJ·mol−1
2nd: 1979.3 kJ·mol−1
3rd: 2963 kJ·mol−1
Atomic radius 135 pm
Covalent radius 122±3 pm
Van der Waals radius 187 pm
Crystal structure orthorhombic
Magnetic ordering diamagnetic
Electrical resistivity (20 °C) 270 nΩ·m
Thermal conductivity (300 K) 40.6 W·m−1·K−1
Thermal expansion (25 °C) 1.2 µm·m−1·K−1
Speed of sound (thin rod) (20 °C) 2740 m/s
Young's modulus 9.8 GPa
Poisson ratio 0.47
Mohs hardness 1.5
Brinell hardness 60 MPa
CAS registry number 7440-55-3
Most stable isotopes
Main article: Isotopes of gallium
iso NA half-life DM DE (MeV) DP
69Ga 60.11% 69Ga is stable with 38 neutrons
71Ga 39.89% 71Ga is stable with 40 neutrons

Gallium (pronounced /ˈɡæliəm/, GAL-ee-əm) is a chemical element that has the symbol Ga and atomic number 31. Elemental gallium does not occur in nature, but as the gallium(III) salt in trace amounts in bauxite and zinc ores. A soft silvery metallic poor metal, elemental gallium is a brittle solid at low temperatures. As it liquefies slightly above room temperature, it will melt in the hand. Its melting point is used as a temperature reference point, and from its discovery in 1875 to the semiconductor era, its primary uses were in high-temperature thermometric applications and in preparation of metal alloys with unusual properties of stability, or ease of melting; some being liquid at room temperature or below. The alloy Galinstan (68.5% Ga, 21.5% In, 10% Sn) has a melting point of about −19 °C (−2.2 °F).

In semiconductors, an important application is in the compounds gallium arsenide and gallium nitride, used most notably in light-emitting diodes (LEDs). Semiconductor use is now almost the entire (> 95%) world market for gallium, but new uses in alloys and fuel cells continue to be discovered.

Gallium is not known to be essential in biology, but because of the biological handling of gallium's primary ionic salt gallium(III) as though it were iron(III), the gallium ion localizes to and interacts with many processes in the body in which iron(III) is manipulated. As these processes include inflammation, which is a marker for many disease states, several gallium salts are used, or are in development, as both pharmaceuticals and radiopharmaceuticals in medicine.


Notable characteristics

Elemental gallium is not found in nature, but it is easily obtained by smelting. Very pure gallium metal has a brilliant silvery color and its solid metal fractures conchoidally like glass. Gallium metal expands by 3.1 percent when it solidifies, and therefore storage in either glass or metal containers is avoided, due to the possibility of container rupture with freezing. Gallium shares the higher-density liquid state with only a few materials like silicon, germanium, bismuth, antimony and water.

Gallium attacks most other metals by diffusing into their metal lattice. Gallium for example diffuses into the grain boundaries of Al/Zn alloys[1] or steel,[2] making them very brittle. Also, gallium metal easily alloys with many metals, and was used in small quantities as a plutonium-gallium alloy in the plutonium cores of the first and third nuclear bombs, to help stabilize the plutonium crystal structure.[3]

The melting point of 302.9146 K (29.7646°C, 85.5763°F) is near room temperature. Gallium's melting point (mp) is one of the formal temperature reference points in the International Temperature Scale of 1990 (ITS-90) established by BIPM.[4][5][6] The triple point of gallium of 302.9166 K (29.7666°C, 85.5799°F), is being used by NIST in preference to gallium's melting point.[7]

Gallium is a metal that will melt in one's hand. This metal has a strong tendency to supercool below its melting point/freezing point. Seeding with a crystal helps to initiate freezing. Gallium is one of the metals (with caesium, rubidium, francium and mercury) which are liquid at or near normal room temperature, and can therefore be used in metal-in-glass high-temperature thermometers. It is also notable for having one of the largest liquid ranges for a metal, and (unlike mercury) for having a low vapor pressure at high temperatures. Unlike mercury, liquid gallium metal wets glass and skin, making it mechanically more difficult to handle (even though it is substantially less toxic and requires far fewer precautions). For this reason as well as the metal contamination problem and freezing-expansion problems noted above, samples of gallium metal are usually supplied in polyethylene packets within other containers.

Crystallization of gallium from the melt

Gallium does not crystallize in any of the simple crystal structures. The stable phase under normal conditions is orthorhombic with 8 atoms in the conventional unit cell. Each atom has only one nearest neighbor (at a distance of 244 pm) and six other neighbors within additional 39 pm. Many stable and metastable phases are found as function of temperature and pressure.

The bonding between the nearest neighbors is found to be of covalent character, hence Ga2 dimers are seen as the fundamental building blocks of the crystal. This explains the drop of the melting point compared to its neighbour elements aluminium and indium. The compound with arsenic, gallium arsenide is a semiconductor commonly used in light-emitting diodes.

High-purity gallium is dissolved slowly by mineral acids.

Gallium has no known biological role, although it has been observed to stimulate metabolism.[8]


Gallium (the Latin Gallia means "Gaul", essentially modern France) was discovered spectroscopically by Paul Emile Lecoq de Boisbaudran in 1875 by its characteristic spectrum (two violet lines) in an examination of a zinc blende from the Pyrenees.[9] Before its discovery, most of its properties had been predicted and described by Dmitri Mendeleev (who had called the hypothetical element "eka-aluminium" on the basis of its position in his periodic table). Later, in 1875, Lecoq obtained the free metal by electrolysis of its hydroxide in potassium hydroxide solution. He named the element "gallia" after his native land of France. It was later claimed that, in one of those multilingual puns so beloved of men of science in the early 19th century, he had also named gallium after himself, as his name, "Le coq", is the French for "the rooster", and the Latin for "rooster" is "gallus"; however, in an 1877 article Lecoq denied this supposition.[10] (The supposition was also noted in Building Blocks of the Universe, a book on the elements by Isaac Asimov; cf. the naming of the J/ψ meson.)


Gallium does not exist in free form in nature, and the few high-gallium minerals such as gallite (CuGaS2) are too rare to serve as a primary source of the element or its compounds. Its abundance in the Earth's crust is approximately 16.9 ppm.[11] Gallium is found and extracted as a trace component in bauxite and to a small extent from sphalerite. The amount extracted from coal, diaspore and germanite in which gallium is also present is negligible. The United States Geological Survey (USGS) estimates gallium reserves to exceed 1 million tonnes, based on 50 ppm by weight concentration in known reserves of bauxite and zinc ores.[12][13] Some flue dusts from burning coal have been shown to contain small quantities of gallium, typically less than 1% by weight.[14][15][16][17]


The only two economic sources for gallium are as byproduct of aluminium and zinc production, while the sphalerite for zinc production is the minor source. Most gallium is extracted from the crude aluminium hydroxide solution of the Bayer process for producing alumina and aluminium. A mercury cell electrolysis and hydrolysis of the amalgam with sodium hydroxide leads to sodium gallate. Electrolysis then gives gallium metal. For semiconductor use, further purification is carried out using zone melting, or else single crystal extraction from a melt (Czochralski process). Purities of 99.9999% are routinely achieved and commercially widely available.[18] An exact number for the world wide production is not available, but it is estimated that in 2007 the production of gallium was 184 tonnes with less than 100 tonnes from mining and the rest from scrap recycling.[12]




Gallium based blue LEDs

Gallium arsenide (GaAs) and gallium nitride (GaN) used in electronic components represented about 98% of the gallium consumption in the United States.[12] World wide gallium arsenide makes up 95% of the annual global gallium consumption.[18] The semiconductor applications are the main reason for the low-cost commercial availability of the extremely high-purity (99.9999+%) metal: As a component of the semiconductor gallium arsenide, the most common application for gallium is optoelectronic devices (mostly laser diodes and light-emitting diodes.) Smaller amounts of gallium arsenide are use for the manufacture of ultra-high speed logic chips and MESFETs for low-noise microwave preamplifiers.

Gallium is used as a dopant for the production of solid-state devices such as transistors. However, worldwide the actual quantity used for this purpose is minute, since dopant levels are usually of the order of a few parts per million.

Multijunction photovoltaic cell is used for special application, first developed and deployed for satellite power applications, are made by molecular beam epitaxy or Metalorganic vapour phase epitaxy of thin films of gallium arsenide, indium gallium phosphide or indium gallium arsenide.The Mars Exploration Rovers and several satellites use triple junction gallium arsenide on germanium cells.[19] Gallium is the rarest component of new photovoltaic compounds (such as copper indium gallium selenium sulfide or Cu(In,Ga)(Se,S)2) for use in solar panels as a more efficient alternative to crystalline silicon.[20]

Wetting and alloy improvement

Galinstan and other liquid alloys

A nearly eutectic alloy of gallium, indium, and tin is a room temperature liquid which is widely available in medical thermometers, replacing problematic mercury. This alloy, with the trade-name Galinstan (with the "-stan" referring to the tin), has a low freezing point of −19 °C (−2.2°F).[22] It has been suggested that this family of alloys could also be used to cool computer chips in place of water.[23] Much research is being devoted to gallium alloys as substitutes for mercury dental amalgams, but these compounds have yet to see wide acceptance.

Energy storage

Aluminium is reactive enough to reduce water to hydrogen, being oxidized to aluminium oxide. However, the aluminium oxide forms a protective coat which prevents further reaction. Galinstan has been applied to activate aluminum (removing the oxide coat), so that aluminum can react with water, generating hydrogen and steam in a reaction being considered as a helpful step in a hydrogen economy.[24] A number of other gallium-alluminum alloys are also usable for the purpose of essentially acting as chemical energy store to generate hydrogen from water, on-site.

After reaction with water the resultant aluminium oxide and gallium mixture might be reformed back into electrodes with energy input.[24][25] The thermodynamic efficiency of the aluminium smelting process is estimated as 50%.[26] Therefore, at most half the energy that goes into smelting the aluminium could be recovered by a hydrogen fuel cell.

Biomedical applications

As gallium(III) salts

  • Gallium nitrate (see Ganite) has been used as an intravenous pharmaceutical to treat hypercalcemia associated with tumor metastasis to bones. Gallium is thought to interfere with osteoclast function. It may be effective when other treatments for maligancy-associated hypercalcemia are not.[27]
  • Gallium maltolate is in clinical and preclinical trials as a potential treatment for cancer, infectious disease, and inflammatory disease.[28]
  • Research is being conducted to determine whether gallium can be used to fight bacterial infections in people with cystic fibrosis. Gallium is similar in size to iron, an essential nutrient for respiration. When gallium is mistakenly picked up by bacteria such as Pseudomonas, the bacteria's ability to respire is interfered with and the bacteria die. The mechanism behind this is that iron is redox active, which allows for the transfer of electrons during respiration, but gallium is redox inactive.[29][30]

As radiogallium salts

Gallium-67 salts such as gallium citrate and gallium nitrate are used as radiopharmaceutical agents in a nuclear medicine imaging procedure commonly referred to as a gallium scan. The form or salt of gallium is not important, since it is the free dissolved gallium ion Ga3+ which is the active radiotracer. For these applications, the radioactive isotope 67Ga is used. The body handles Ga3+ in many ways as though it were iron, and thus it is bound (and concentrates) in areas of inflammation, such as infection, and also areas of rapid cell division. This allows such sites to be imaged by nuclear scan techniques. This use has largely been replaced by fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) for positron emission tomography, "PET" scan and indium-111 labelled leukocyte scans. However, the localization of gallium in the body has some properties which make it unique in some circumstances from competing modalities using other radioisotopes.

Gallium-68, a positron emitter with a half life of 68 min., is now used as a diagnostic radionuclide in CT-PET when linked to pharmaceutical preparations such as DOTATOC, a somatostatin analogue used for neuroendocrine tumors investigation, and DOTATATE, a newer one, used for neuroendocrine metastasis and lung neuroendocrine cancer, such as certain types of microcytoma. Galium-68's preparation as a pharmaceutical is chemical and the radionuclide is extracted by elution from germanium-68, a synthetic radioisotope of germanium, in gallium-68 generators.

Other uses

  • Magnesium gallate containing impurities (such as Mn2+), is beginning to be used in ultraviolet-activated phosphor powder.
  • Neutrino detection. Possibly the largest amount of pure gallium ever collected in a single spot is the Gallium-Germanium Neutrino Telescope used by the SAGE experiment at the Baksan Neutrino Observatory in Russia. This detector contains 55-57 tonnes of liquid gallium.[31] Another experiment was the GALLEX neutrino detector operated in the early 1990s in an Italian mountain tunnel. The detector contained 12.2 tons of watered gallium-71. Solar neutrinos caused a few atoms of Ga-71 to become radioactive Ge-71, which were detected. The solar neutrino flux deduced was found to have a deficit of 40% from theory. This was not explained until better solar neutrino detectors and theories were constructed (see SNO).[32]
  • As a liquid metal ion source for a focused ion beam.
  • As alloying element in the magnetic shape memory alloy Ni-Mn-Ga.


While not considered toxic, the data about gallium are inconclusive. Some sources suggest that it may cause dermatitis from prolonged exposure; other tests have not caused a positive reaction. Like most metals, finely divided gallium loses its luster and powdered gallium appears gray. Thus, when gallium is handled with bare hands, the extremely fine dispersion of liquid gallium droplets, which results from wetting skin with the metal, may appear as a gray skin stain.

See also


  1. ^ W. L. Tsai, Y. Hwu, C. H. Chen, L. W. Chang, J. H. Je, H. M. Lin, G. Margaritondo (2003). "Grain boundary imaging, gallium diffusion and the fracture behavior of Al–Zn Alloy – An in situ study". Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research Section B 199: 457. doi:10.1016/S0168-583X(02)01533-1. 
  2. ^ Vigilante, G. N., Trolano, E., Mossey, C. (June 1999). "Liquid Metal Embrittlement of ASTM A723 Gun Steel by Indium and Gallium". Defense Technical Information Center. Retrieved 2009-07-07. 
  3. ^ Sublette,Cary (2001-09-09). "Section". Nuclear Weapons FAQ. Retrieved 2008-01-24. 
  4. ^ Preston–Thomas, H. (1990). "The International Temperature Scale of 1990 (ITS-90)". Metrologia 27: 3–10. doi:10.1088/0026-1394/27/1/002. 
  5. ^ "ITS-90 documents at Bureau International de Poids et Mesures". 
  6. ^ Magnum, B.W.; Furukawa, G.T. (August 1990). "Guidelines for Realizing the International Temperature Scale of 1990 (ITS-90)". National Institute of Standards and Technology. NIST TN 1265. 
  7. ^ Strouse, Gregory F. (1999). "NIST realization of the gallium triple point". National Institute of Standards and Technology. Retrieved 2009-07-07. 
  8. ^ Winter, Mark. "Scholar Edition: gallium: Biological information". The University of Sheffield and WebElements Ltd, UK. 
  9. ^ de Boisbaudran, Lecoq. "Caractères chimiques et spectroscopiques d'un nouveau métal, le gallium, découvert dans une blende de la mine de Pierrefitte, vallée d'Argelès (Pyrénées)". Comptes rendus 81: 493. Retrieved 2008-09-23. 
  10. ^ Weeks, Mary Elvira (1932). "The discovery of the elements. XIII. Some elements predicted by Mendeleeff". Journal of Chemical Education 9 (9): 1605–1619. doi:10.1021/ed009p1605. 
  11. ^ Burton, J. D.; Culkin, F.; Riley, J. P. (2007). "The abundances of gallium and germanium in terrestrial materials". Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 16: 151. doi:10.1016/0016-7037(59)90052-3. 
  12. ^ a b c Kramer, Deborah A.. "Mineral Commodity Summary 2006: Gallium". United States Geological Survey. Retrieved 2008-11-20. 
  13. ^ Kramer, Deborah A.. "Mineral Yearbook 2006: Gallium". United States Geological Survey. Retrieved 2008-11-20. 
  14. ^ Shan Xiao-quan, Wang Wen and Wen Bei (1992). "Determination of gallium in coal and coal fly ash by electrothermal atomic absorption spectrometry using slurry sampling and nickel chemical modification". Journal of Analytical Atomic Spectrometry 7: 761. doi:10.1039/JA9920700761. 
  15. ^ "Gallium in West Virginia Coals". West Virginia Geological and Economic Survey. 2002-03-02. 
  16. ^ O. Font, X. Querol, R. Juan, R. Casado, C. R. Ruiz, A. Lopez-Soler, P. Coca and F. G. Pena (2007). "Recovery of gallium and vanadium from gasification fly ash". Journal of Hazardous Materials 139: 413. doi:10.1016/j.jhazmat.2006.02.041. 
  17. ^ A. J. W. Headlee and Richard G. Hunter (1953). "Elements in Coal Ash and Their Industrial Significance". Industrial and Engineering Chemistry 45: 548. doi:10.1021/ie50519a028. 
  18. ^ a b Moskalyk, R. R. (2003). "Gallium: the backbone of the electronics industry". Minerals Engineering 16: 921. doi:10.1016/j.mineng.2003.08.003. 
  19. ^ Crisp, D.; Pathare, A.; Ewell, R. C. (2004). "The performance of gallium arsenide/germanium solar cells at the Martian surface". Progress in Photovoltaics Research and Applications 54: 83. doi:10.1016/S0094-5765(02)00287-4. 
  20. ^ Alberts, V.; Titus J.; Birkmire R. W. (2003). "Material and device properties of single-phase Cu(In,Ga)(Se,S)2 alloys prepared by selenization/sulfurization of metallic alloys". Thin Solid Films 451-452: 207. doi:10.1016/j.tsf.2003.10.092. 
  21. ^ Besmann, Theodore M. (2005). "Thermochemical Behavior of Gallium in Weapons-Material-Derived Mixed-Oxide Light Water Reactor (LWR) Fuel". Journal of the American Ceramic Society 81: 3071. doi:10.1111/j.1151-2916.1998.tb02740.x. 
  22. ^ Surmann, P; Zeyat, H (Nov 2005). "Voltammetric analysis using a self-renewable non-mercury electrode.". Analytical and bioanalytical chemistry 383 (6): 1009–13. doi:10.1007/s00216-005-0069-7. ISSN 1618-2642. PMID 16228199. 
  23. ^ Knight, Will (2005-05-05). "Hot chips chilled with liquid metal". Retrieved 2008-11-20. 
  24. ^ a b Purdue University (2007-04-10). "Purdue Energy Center symposium to pave the road to a hydrogen economy". Press release. 
  25. ^ "New process generates hydrogen from aluminum alloy to run engines, fuel cells". 2007-05-16. 
  26. ^ Das, Subodh K.; Long, W. Jerry; Hayden, H. Wayne; Green, John A. S.; Hunt, Warren H. (2004). "Energy implications of the changing world of aluminum metal supply". JOM 56: 14. doi:10.1007/s11837-004-0175-6. 
  27. ^ "gallium nitrate". Retrieved 2009-07-07. 
  28. ^ L. R. Bernstein, T. Tanner, C. Godfrey, B. Noll (2000). "Chemistry and pharmacokinetics of gallium maltolate, a compound with high oral gallium bioavailability". Metal Based Drugs 7: 33. doi:10.1155/MBD.2000.33. 
  29. ^ "A Trojan-horse strategy selected to fight bacteria". 2007-03-16. Retrieved 2008-11-20. 
  30. ^ Smith, Michael (2007-03-16). "Gallium May Have Antibiotic-Like Properties". MedPage Today. Retrieved 2008-11-20. 
  31. ^ "Russian American Gallium Experiment". 2001-10-19. Retrieved 2009-06-24. 
  32. ^ "Neutrino Detectors Experiments: GALLEX". 1999-06-26. Retrieved 2008-11-20. 

External links

Gallium is sexy hot!!

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

GALLIUM (symbol Ga; atomic weight 69.9), one of the metallic chemical elements. It was discovered in 1875 through its spectrum, in a specimen of zinc blende by Lecoq de Boisbaudran (Comptes rendus, 1875, 81, p. 493, and following years). The chief chemical and physical properties of gallium had been predicted many years before by D. Mendeleeff (c. 1869) from a consideration of the properties of aluminium, indium and zinc (see Element). The metal is obtained from zinc blende (which only contains it in very small quantity) by dissolving the mineral in an acid, and precipitating the gallium by metallic zinc. The precipitate is dissolved in hydrochloric acid and foreign metals are removed by sulphuretted hydrogen; the residual liquid being then fractionally precipitated by sodium carbonate, which throws out the gallium before the zinc. This precipitate is converted into gallium sulphate and finally into a pure specimen of the oxide, from which the metal is obtained by the electrolysis of an alkaline solution. Gallium crystallizes in greyish-white octahedra which melt at 30.15° C. to a silvery-white liquid. It is very hard and but slightly malleable and flexible, although in thin plates it may be bent several times without breaking. The specific gravity of the solid form is 5.956 (24.5° C.), of the liquid 6 069, whilst the specific heats of the two varieties are, for the solid form 0.079 (12-23° C.) and for the liquid 0.082 (106-119°) [M. Berthelot, Comptes rendus, 1878, 86, p. 786]. It is not appreciably volatilized at a red heat. Chlorine acts on it readily in the cold, bromine not so easily, and iodine only when the mixture is heated. The atomic weight of gallium has been determined by Lecoq de Boisbaudran by ignition of gallium ammonium alum, and also by L. Meyer and K. Seubert.

Gallium oxide Ga203 is obtained when the nitrate is heated, or by solution of the metal in nitric acid and ignition of the nitrate. It forms a white friable mass which after ignition is insoluble in acids. On heating to redness in a stream of hydrogen it forms a bluish mass which is probably a lower oxide of composition GaO. Gallium forms colourless salts, which in neutral dilute aqueous solutions are converted on heating into basic salts. The gallium salts are precipitated by alkaline carbonates and by barium carbonate, but not by sulphuretted hydrogen unless in acetic acid solution. Potassium ferrocyanide gives a precipitate even in very dilute solution. In neutral solutions, zinc gives a precipitate of gallium oxide. By heating gallium in a regulated stream of chlorine the dichloride GaC1 2 is obtained as a crystalline mass, which melts at 164° C. and readily decomposes on exposure to moist air. The tichloride GaC1 3 is similarly formed when the metal is heated in a rapid stream of chlorine, and may be purified by distillation in an atmosphere of nitrogen. It forms very deliquescent long white needles melting at 75.5° C. and boiling at 215-220° C. The bromide, iodide and sulphate are known, as is also gallium ammonium alum. Gallium is best detected by means of its spark spectrum, which gives two violet lines of wave length 4171 and 4031.

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also gallium



Chemical Element: Ga (atomic number 31)


  • IPA: /ˈgali̯ʊm/


Gallium n.

  1. gallium




  1. Gallic (of Gaul); neuter of Gallius

Simple English

Crystals of Gallium joined together.

Gallium (chemical symbol: Ga) is chemical element 31 on the periodic table.

Gallium is a metal, but is has some unusual properties. If it is held in a person's hand, it will melt. Gallium does not conduct electricity well, and is known as a semiconductor. That means gallium can be used in computers to make them work. It is very shiny, so it is used to paint mirrors when melted.

Gallium is not dangerous to people, because there is not much of it on the Earth.


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