What is Tantalum?


02:24 AM

1 min read
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Recently, a team of researchers from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Ropar has found the presence of tantalum, a rare metal, in the Sutlej river sand in Punjab.

About Tantalum

  • It is a rare metal with the atomic number 73 — the number of protons found in one atom of the element.
  • The rare metal has been named after a Greek mythological figure Tantalus.
  • Properties
    • It’s grey, heavy, very hard, and one of the most corrosion-resistant metals in use today.
    • It possesses high corrosion resistance because when exposed to air, it forms an oxide layer that is extremely difficult to remove, even when it interacts with strong and hot acid environments.
    • When pure, tantalum is ductile, meaning it can be stretched, pulled, or drawn into a thin wire or thread without breaking.
    • It is almost completely immune to chemical attack at temperatures below 150°C, and is attacked only by hydrofluoric acid, acidic solutions containing the fluoride ion, and free sulphur trioxide,”
    • It also has an extremely high melting point, exceeded only by tungsten and rhenium.
    • When it is placed in the midst of acids, it is incapable of taking any of them up.
  • Applications
    • It is most prominently used in the electronic sector.
    • The capacitors made from tantalum are capable of storing more electricity in smaller sizes without much leakage than any other type of capacitor.
    • This makes them ideal for use in portable electronic devices such as smartphones, laptops, and digital cameras.
    • As tantalum has a high melting point, it is frequently used as a substitute for platinum, which is more expensive.
    • The rare metal is also used to make components for chemical plants, nuclear power plants, aeroplanes and missiles.
    • It does not react with bodily fluids and is used to make surgical equipment and implants, like artificial joints
    • A composite consisting of tantalum carbide (TaC) and graphite is one of the hardest materials known and is used on the cutting edges of high-speed machine tools.

Q1) What is ductility?

It is the ability of a material to have its shape changed (as by being drawn out into wire or thread) without losing strength or breaking. 

Source: What is tantalum, the rare metal found in Sutlej?