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Elements for Kids

Gallium

The element gallium

  • Symbol: Ga
  • Atomic Number: 31
  • Atomic Weight: 69.723
  • Classification: Post-transition or "other" metal
  • Phase at Room Temperature: Solid
  • Density: 5.91 grams per cm cubed
  • Melting Point: 29.76°C, 85.57°F
  • Boiling Point: 2204°C, 3999°F
  • Discovered by: Paul Emile Lecoq de Boisbaudran in 1875
Gallium is the third element in the thirteenth column of the periodic table. It is classified as a post-transition metal or "other" metal. Gallium atoms have 31 electrons and 31 protons with 3 valence electrons in the outer shell.

Characteristics and Properties

Under standard conditions gallium is a soft metal with a silvery color. It is very brittle and will break easily.

One of gallium's interesting properties is its low melting point and high boiling point. It has one of the widest liquid ranges of any element. Its melting point is such that it is solid at room temperature, but will begin to melt in your hand. When gallium freezes, it expands (like water does when it freezes into ice). This means you have to be careful when storing liquid gallium to allow for expansion when the temperature drops.

Gallium is a fairly reactive element that reacts readily with acids and alkalis. It is typically found in the +3 oxidation state.

Where is gallium found on Earth?

Gallium is not found in its elemental form on Earth, but it is found in minerals and ores in the Earth's crust. Most gallium is produced as a byproduct of mining other metals including aluminum (bauxite) and zinc (sphalerite).

How is gallium used today?

The primary use of gallium is in high speed semiconductors that are used to make mobile phones, optoelectronics, solar panels, and LEDs. Gallium is used to make the compounds gallium arsenide (GaAs) and gallium nitride (GaN) which are used to manufacture these devices.

Other applications of gallium include low-melting metal alloys, mirrors, and medical thermometers.

How was it discovered?

Gallium was first predicted by Russian chemist Dmitri Mendeleev. However, it was French chemist Paul Emile Lecoq de Boisbaudran who first isolated the element in 1875 and is given credit for its discovery.

Where did gallium get its name?

Gallium gets its name from the Latin word "Gallia" for "France" in honor of its discoverer's home country.

Isotopes

Gallium has two stable isotopes that are found in nature: Gallium-69 and Gallium-71.

Interesting Facts about Gallium


More on the Elements and the Periodic Table

Elements
Periodic Table

Alkali Metals
Lithium
Sodium
Potassium

Alkaline Earth Metals
Beryllium
Magnesium
Calcium
Radium

Transition Metals
Scandium
Titanium
Vanadium
Chromium
Manganese
Iron
Cobalt
Nickel
Copper
Zinc
Silver
Platinum
Gold
Mercury
Post-transition Metals
Aluminum
Gallium
Tin
Lead

Metalloids
Boron
Silicon
Germanium
Arsenic

Nonmetals
Hydrogen
Carbon
Nitrogen
Oxygen
Phosphorus
Sulfur
Halogens
Fluorine
Chlorine
Iodine

Noble Gases
Helium
Neon
Argon

Lanthanides and Actinides
Uranium
Plutonium

More Chemistry Subjects

Matter
Atom
Molecules
Isotopes
Solids, Liquids, Gases
Melting and Boiling
Chemical Bonding
Chemical Reactions
Radioactivity and Radiation
Mixtures and Compounds
Naming Compounds
Mixtures
Separating Mixtures
Solutions
Acids and Bases
Crystals
Metals
Salts and Soaps
Water
Other
Glossary and Terms
Chemistry Lab Equipment
Organic Chemistry
Famous Chemists


Science >> Chemistry for Kids >> Periodic Table





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