Tellurium Facts: Learn About This Brittle & Silver-White Metalloid | Kidadl


Tellurium Facts: Learn About This Brittle & Silver-White Metalloid

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Every element on the periodic table has an intriguing story to it.

Tellurium, too, is one such element with a fascinating history. This element was first found in a gold mine in Transylvania (now famous amongst youngsters for the animated movie about a vampire) in the year 1782.

Franz-Joseph Müller, Freiherr von Reichenstein, a mineralogist from Austria, was the first one who discovered this material in 1782. Müller had found this element in its compound form with gold and later after quite a lengthy amount of research conducted by him, the chemical properties and its occurrences were analyzed. Although it was only in 1798 when the new element was named tellurium by Martin Heinrich Klaproth, a German chemist.

Tellurium has 52 as its atomic number and is usually found in the 16th group of the periodic table. It is rare in its pure form and is commercially found after the electrolytic refining process of copper and lead that produces anode muds.

If chemistry engages you, this article is the perfect quick read to get even more insights into this rare element found on our planet. Read on for more interesting facts.

Uses Of Tellurium

Tellurium properties, when smartly combined, can make or break different metals and devices.

We've all seen rewritable DVDs and CDs, but here's an interesting fact: a significant part of these CDs and DVDs only succeeds with the help of tellurium suboxide. In addition to this, tellurium is a great alloy for tin, lead, copper, aluminum, and stainless steel. It also performs as a semiconductor for electricity hence is highly used in electrical appliances like computers and calculators. Bismuth telluride is its natural form is mainly used for thermoelectric devices.

There is a demand for the use of tellurium in the rubber, ceramic, solar panel, and tint glass industries. The properties of this element also act as catalysts and are thus mainly used in the oil refining industry. In the thermoelectric cooling processes, tellurium properties help in improving machine characteristics by preventing sulfuric acid corrosion.

Tellurium makes an excellent alloy for lead and stainless steel as it increases their strength and hardness.

Importance Of Tellurium

It was discovered that tellurium is the rarest element on Earth, rarer in appearance than platinum.

Apart from the uses of tellurium in the industries mentioned above and the different processes, tellurium is also considered a capturer of the sun. Capturer of the sun sounds quite intriguing, doesn't it? Well, in simple terms of science, when in the form of cadmium telluride, this element has the capacity to capture solar energy which is further used in generating electricity for any electrical power.

Characteristics And Features

Due to its rarity, tellurium properties and features are of particular interest to anyone who is intrigued by elements and chemistry.

The atomic number for tellurium is 52, and its atomic weight has been reported to be 4.5 oz (127.6 g). The chemical symbol for this material is Te. Tellurium is closely related to sulfur and selenium as all three of these elements belong to the oxygen family group 16. It is commonly known as a silver-white metalloid, often found in a gray powder. Crystalline tellurium has a metallic luster and is easily pulverizable. The molten state of the element tellurium is corrosive to metals like iron and stainless steel.

Even though it is rare to find this element in its pure manner, in its natural form tellurium is known to consist of eight isotopes. Out of these eight, six are stable isotopes, and two, namely 128Te and 130Te, are radioactive elements.

Melting Point And Density

Tellurium is a semi-metal usually found in a compound form and has different property details in science. Read on to know more about this element.

Tellurium has an atomic mass of 4.5 oz (127.6 g) and has a 0.22 oz (6.2 g) density. Tellurium elements are usually found in bristle-gray or silver-white metalloid powder form. The melting point of tellurium is found to be 842°F (450 °C), whereas the boiling point is usually 1814°F (990ºC). Although, due to the variations in its compound formation, the boiling point may go up to 2534°F (1390 °C).


What is an interesting fact about tellurium?

Only 0.001 parts per million is the tellurium ratio found in the Earth's crust, whereas, it is found in abundance in outer space.

What is tellurium used for in everyday life?

Tellurium is often doped with copper, gold, silver, or tin to act as a semiconductor in different applications.

Is tellurium a rare Earth material?

Yes, tellurium in its original form is rarer than the element platinum when found on Earth.

What color does tellurium burn?

When tellurium is burning in the air, it gives out a greenish-blue flame.

Is tellurium harmful to humans?

Although not hazardous in nature, if any human comes in contact with the element tellurium, the person may experience health issues such as drowsiness, metal taste, and dry mouth with a strong garlic-like smell. The person may also experience vomiting, constipation, and nausea.

How much is tellurium worth?

As per the 2019 reports, tellurium was worth somewhere around 60.45 USD per 2.2 lb (1 kg).

Written By
Moumita Dutta

<p>A content writer and editor with a passion for sports, Moumita has honed her skills in producing compelling match reports and stories about sporting heroes. She holds a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management, Calcutta University, alongside a postgraduate diploma in Sports Management.</p>

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