[Kr] 4d55s1
95Mo, 96Mo, 98Mo
2, 8, 18, 13, 1
2622°C, 4752°F, 2895 K
4639°C, 8382°F, 4912 K
Peter Jacob Hjelm
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Uses and Properties

Image Explanation

Chromium molybdenum, often referred to as chromoly or Cr-Mo, is a type of steel alloy known for its exceptional strength and durability. This alloy has found applications in various industries, including the construction of bicycles, where the balance of strength and weight is crucial for performance and reliability.


A shiny, silvery metal.


Molybdenum: The Mighty Metal Transforming Industries

In the vast and dynamic world of materials science, Molybdenum, with its atomic number 42, may not be a household name, but its remarkable versatility and resilience have earned it a pivotal place in various industries. This unassuming transition metal is known for its high melting point, exceptional strength, and unique chemical properties, making it an indispensable element for countless applications. In this article, we will explore the diverse and transformative uses of Molybdenum, shedding light on its contributions to technology, industry, and innovation.


The Elemental Backbone

Before we delve into the myriad applications of Molybdenum, let's take a closer look at the element itself. Molybdenum, named after the Greek word "molybdos" meaning "lead," is a refractory metal situated in the periodic table's transition metals. It shares chemical characteristics with tantalum and niobium, making it a versatile and valuable material for a wide range of applications.


Molybdenum in Steel Alloys

One of the primary applications of Molybdenum is in the realm of steel alloys. Molybdenum is added to steel to enhance its strength, hardness, and resistance to corrosion. The resulting alloy, known as "moly steel" or "molybdenum steel," finds applications in construction, manufacturing, and various industries.

Molybdenum steel is especially favored in the production of critical components like aircraft and missile parts, where exceptional strength and durability are essential. It is also used in the manufacturing of high-speed cutting tools and drill bits that can withstand extreme temperatures and heavy wear.


Molybdenum in Electronics and Semiconductors

Molybdenum's high melting point and electrical conductivity make it valuable in the electronics industry. Molybdenum is used in the production of filaments and electrical contacts. For example, molybdenum wire is employed in incandescent light bulbs and electron tubes, where it serves as a heating element.

Molybdenum also finds applications as a thin film in semiconductors. It is used as a mask material during the manufacturing of integrated circuits, helping to define patterns on silicon wafers through a process known as photolithography.


Molybdenum in Aerospace and Defense

The aerospace and defense industries rely on Molybdenum for its remarkable heat resistance and strength. Molybdenum alloys are used in the construction of aircraft and missile components, particularly in areas where extreme temperatures and stress are common.

Molybdenum is also employed in the production of armor-piercing projectiles and military vehicle armor due to its ability to withstand high-velocity impacts and penetration resistance.


Molybdenum in Energy and Power Generation

Molybdenum plays a critical role in the energy and power generation sector. It is used in the production of superalloys for gas turbine engines, which are commonly used in power plants and aircraft propulsion. These superalloys, containing Molybdenum, can withstand the high temperatures and mechanical stress experienced during operation.

In the nuclear power industry, Molybdenum-98 is used as a neutron absorber and in the production of radiopharmaceuticals for medical applications, underlining its significance in nuclear science and technology.


Molybdenum in Chemical Processing

Molybdenum is indispensable in chemical processing due to its resistance to corrosion by many acids and other aggressive chemical substances. Molybdenum equipment, including pipes, vessels, and heat exchangers, is used in the production of chemicals, petrochemicals, and pharmaceuticals.

Molybdenum catalysts are also widely employed in the chemical industry for processes such as the production of sulfuric acid, ammonia, and various petrochemicals. These catalysts facilitate chemical reactions, making them more efficient and economically viable.


Molybdenum in Lighting

Molybdenum wire is extensively used in the lighting industry. It serves as a support wire in incandescent and fluorescent light bulbs, helping to maintain the structural integrity of the bulb's filament. Molybdenum's high melting point and strength ensure that it can withstand the high temperatures generated during lighting operations.


Molybdenum in Health and Medicine

Molybdenum is an essential trace element in human nutrition, as it is a component of various enzymes involved in processes like metabolism and detoxification. The human body requires Molybdenum in small amounts for these vital functions.

Molybdenum is also used in the production of radiopharmaceuticals for diagnostic imaging and cancer treatment, contributing to advancements in medical science and healthcare.



Molybdenum, often operating behind the scenes, is a mighty metal that has silently transformed various industries and technologies. Its remarkable properties, including high strength, resistance to corrosion, and heat tolerance, make it a versatile and invaluable element in the modern world.

As we continue to explore and innovate with Molybdenum, its potential is bound to expand, opening doors to new and exciting applications. From aerospace and defense to electronics, from energy generation to chemical processing, Molybdenum remains an unsung hero in our technological, industrial, and scientific landscape. Its journey from obscurity to indispensability underscores the profound impact of scientific exploration and innovation in shaping our modern world.


In the intricate tapestry of the periodic table, the story of Molybdenum (M), with its atomic number 42, unfolds as a testament to the enduring human quest for knowledge and innovation. This unassuming transition metal has etched its name in the annals of science and industry through its remarkable properties and a history that spans centuries. From its early discovery to its pivotal role in technology, Molybdenum's journey is a compelling narrative of strength, resilience, and adaptation. In this article, we will delve into the fascinating history of Molybdenum, tracing its evolution from obscurity to indispensability.

A Geological Beginning

Molybdenum's story commences in the Earth's crust, where it is found as a trace element in various minerals. The element's name is derived from the Greek word "molybdos," which means "lead-like." This name hints at Molybdenum's characteristic appearance and density.


Discovery of Molybdenum

Molybdenum's initial discovery can be attributed to the scientific curiosity of several individuals. The element was first identified in the late 18th century, and its history is closely intertwined with the study of minerals and ores.

  • Swedish chemist Carl Wilhelm Scheele made significant contributions to the understanding of Molybdenum. In 1778, he isolated a new substance from molybdenite, a mineral rich in Molybdenum. However, Scheele did not recognize this substance as a distinct element at the time.

  • In 1781, Swedish chemist Peter Jacob Hjelm succeeded in reducing Molybdenum oxide to its metallic form, thus isolating Molybdenum as a distinct element. This marked a significant step in Molybdenum's history, leading to its official recognition.


Early Uses and Applications

In its early history, Molybdenum was recognized for its intriguing properties but had limited practical applications. The element's high melting point and resistance to corrosion made it a valuable material for specialized applications:

  • Molybdenum was used as an alloying agent in the production of steel. The addition of Molybdenum enhanced the strength and hardness of steel, making it suitable for various industrial applications.

  • Molybdenum steel found use in the manufacture of armor plates and heavy artillery, where its durability and resistance to wear were highly advantageous.


A Material for Modern Industry

Molybdenum's journey from obscurity to indispensability gained momentum as industries and technologies advanced. Its unique properties and versatility found applications in various fields:


Molybdenum in Metallurgy and Steel Production

The evolution of steel production and metallurgy played a pivotal role in Molybdenum's history. Molybdenum is an essential element in the production of high-strength steel alloys used in construction, aerospace, and manufacturing. These alloys are prized for their capacity to withstand extreme temperatures and mechanical stress.

Molybdenum is an indispensable component in the creation of superalloys, which find use in gas turbine engines, power plants, and the aerospace industry. These superalloys can endure the harsh conditions of high-temperature environments and heavy mechanical loads, contributing to improved efficiency and safety.


Molybdenum in Electronics and Semiconductors

Molybdenum's high melting point and electrical conductivity make it a valuable material in the electronics and semiconductor industries. It is used in the production of filaments for incandescent light bulbs, where its heat resistance ensures long-lasting performance.

Molybdenum's thin films are employed in the manufacturing of semiconductors, particularly in photolithography. It is used as a mask material during the creation of integrated circuits, contributing to the miniaturization and efficiency of electronic devices.


Molybdenum in Aerospace and Defense

The aerospace and defense sectors have benefited greatly from Molybdenum's strength and resilience. Molybdenum alloys are used in the construction of aircraft components, missile parts, and military vehicle armor. These alloys provide the necessary strength and durability to withstand extreme conditions and high-velocity impacts.


Molybdenum in Energy and Power Generation

Molybdenum is a vital component in the energy and power generation industry. Superalloys containing Molybdenum are used in gas turbine engines, which are prevalent in power plants and aircraft propulsion. Molybdenum's ability to withstand high temperatures and mechanical stress is critical in these applications.

In the nuclear power industry, Molybdenum-98 is used as a neutron absorber, and it plays a significant role in the production of radiopharmaceuticals for medical applications, contributing to advances in nuclear science and healthcare.


Molybdenum in Chemical Processing

Molybdenum's corrosion resistance and ability to withstand aggressive chemical substances make it invaluable in chemical processing. Molybdenum equipment, such as pipes, vessels, and heat exchangers, is used in the production of chemicals, petrochemicals, and pharmaceuticals.

Molybdenum catalysts are extensively employed in the chemical industry to facilitate various chemical reactions, contributing to increased efficiency and cost-effectiveness in the production of essential chemicals.


Molybdenum in Lighting

Molybdenum's use extends to the lighting industry, where it is employed in incandescent and fluorescent light bulbs. Molybdenum wire serves as a support structure for filaments, ensuring their stability and longevity. The material's high melting point makes it an ideal choice for maintaining structural integrity in high-temperature environments.


Molybdenum's history is a remarkable narrative of adaptation and evolution. From its discovery as an unidentified substance to its crucial role in a myriad of industries, Molybdenum has etched its name in the annals of materials science.

As we trace the history of Molybdenum, we witness a transition from obscurity to indispensability. This unassuming element has silently but significantly contributed to our modern world, impacting diverse industries, from steel production to electronics, from aerospace to energy generation.

Molybdenum, often operating behind the scenes, stands as a symbol of strength and resilience, proving that even the most unassuming elements can play pivotal roles in shaping our world. Its journey is a testament to the power of scientific exploration and innovation in our quest for progress and knowledge.

Atomic Data

Atomic Radiues, Non-bonded (A): 2.17
Electron Affinity (kJ mol-1): 72.171
Covalent Radiues (A): 1.46
Electronegativity (Pauling Scale): 2.16
Ionisation Energies (kJ mol-1) 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th
684.316 1559.2 2617.65 4476.9 5257.49 6640.854 12124.734 13855.3

Oxidation States and Isotopes

Common oxidation states 1
Isotope Atomic Mass Natural Abundance Half Life Mode of Decay
92Mo 91.907 14.53 > 3 x 1017 y β+-EC
94Mo 93.905 9.15 - -
95Mo 94.906 15.8 - -
96Mo 95.905 16.67 - -
97Mo 96.906 9.60 - -
98Mo 97.905 24.39 - -
100Mo 99.907 9.82 6 x 1020 y β-β-

Supply Risk

Relative Supply Risk: 8.6
Crustal Abundance (ppm): 0.8
Recycle Rate (%): 10–30
Production Conc.(%) : 40
Top 3 Producers:
1) China
2) USA
3) Chile
Top 3 Reserve Holders:
1) China
2) USA
3) Chile
Substitutability: High
Political Stability of Top Producer: 24.1
Political Stability of Top Reserve Holder: 24.1

Pressure and Temperature Data

Specific Heat Capacity: 251
Shear Modulus: Unknown
Young Modulus: Unknown
Bulk Modulus: 231
Pressure 400k Pressure 600k Pressure 800k Pressure 1000k Pressure 1200k Pressure 1400k Pressure 1600k Pressure 1800k Pressure 2000k Pressure 2200k Pressure 2400k
- - - - - - 1.83 x 10-9 4.07 x 10-7 3.03 x 10-5 0.00102 231


Transcript :

Molybdenum is known as a heavy metal. This chemical element is found in group six of the periodic table. The atomic number for this element is 42. This element is also an important component in several metal alloys, including aluminum, magnesium, titanium, steel and stainless steel. The title originates from the Greek term, Molbydos, which may be translated as Lead-Like. It is important to note that there is a possibility of adverse effects from excessive consumption of this. As such Molybdenum is best to keep a check on the amount of Molybdenum that you consume. The recommended daily intake of this element for healthy adults is 45 micrograms, while pregnant women and infants are advised to take 50 micrograms. Molybdenum is an integral part of all creatures that can live. The element is also essential in protein synthesis. Enzymes containing Molybdenum are found in plants and bacteria and is needed in enzymes that fix nitrogen.

Although the early history of Molybdenum is not clear, it has been discovered and isolated more than 300 years ago. In the mid-1940s, researchers developed a method for manufacturing high-performance Molybdenum ingots. Carl Wilhelm Scheele, a German chemist, discovered Molybdenum in 1778. He was 33 years old and working as a pharmacist in Koping, Sweden. His experiment involved heating a white solid in the air. As a result, a powder of Molybdenum oxide was produced. This compound was then reduced with carbon, leading to Molybdenum.

Molybdenum found in the earth's crust. It exists in a variety of oxidation's states in minerals. There are two principal ore sources for Molybdenum: Wulfenite and Molybdenite. Wulfenite is an oxyanion Molybdate, and it is naturally present in the earth's soil. This element can be processed into ferromolybdenum. A thermal process can convert the ferromolybdenum into ferromolybdenum alloy.

The occurrence and production of Molybdenum is highly dependent on copper concentrations in the soil. According to the United States Department of Mines, Molybdenum output was about 900 tons in 1943.

As of 2013, the major producers of Molybdenum are Canada, Mexico, Chile, China and the United States.

Molybdenum may be found in minute amounts in human bodies. In the blood, the average Molybdenum content is 0.07 mg per kilogram. A little bit of this element is stored in the liver and kidney. Several minerals contain Molybdenum. These include nitrates, which can be found in soil. Plants can use these nitrates in their bodies. Another source of Molybdenum is nitrogen-fixing bacteria. It is also an essential component of Metalloflavoproteins. Some of these enzymes are the mitochondrial amidoxime-reducing component, which play a major role in N-reductive drug metabolism or catalysis of the breakdown of nucleotides to form uric acid. The N-reductive activity was found in all tested tissues with the highest detectable conversion rates in liver, kidney, thyroid, and pancreas.

Molybdenum has ability to withstand pressure, good conductor of heat. It has low expansion coefficients and excellent thermal conductivity. Molybdenum is resistant to most acidic environments. A few exceptions include concentrated hydrofluoric and sodium hydroxide. Molybdenum is a highly refractory metal. However, it can be attacked by alkaline oxidizing melts, such as potassium nitrate. Therefore, it should be handled with care.

Another property of Molybdenum is its excellent mechanical strength at elevated temperatures.

When combined with aluminum and iron, it forms coatings that provide excellent resistance to wear and corrosion. It melts at a high temperature of 4730 degrees Fahrenheit but doesn't expand much when heated. Doping with small oxide particles increases the recrystallization temperature of Molybdenum. The oxidation state of Molybdenum is +6. At normal temperatures, it is chemically inert to oxygen. However, this element reacts violently with nitrogen at higher temperatures. Sodium and boron are among the other elements that react with Molybdenum.

Molybdenum is widely used in industrial applications, especially in the production of catalysts for chemical reactions and in the manufacture of high-temperature superconductors. Typical Molybdenum alloys are used in metal processing tools, such as punching operations. They are also used in the aerospace industry, in electric light sources, and in the manufacturing of electric tubes.

Moreover, Molybdenum is used in the production of glass melting electrodes and sputtering targets for the manufacturing of solar cells. It is also a catalyst in the petroleum industry and is used in thin-film transistors. Its use as a catalyst is critical to breaking down proteins and toxins. This element has a number of applications in the manufacturing of different kinds of microelectronic components.

Molybdenum is used in a variety of metallurgical processes, including steel. To enhance the strength-to-weight ratio of stainless steel. Molybdenum can be alloyed with various other metals to produce high-strength alloys which are often utilized for nuclear energy applications and to enhance the hardness of metals.


  • W. M. Haynes, ed., CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics, CRC Press/Taylor and Francis, Boca Raton, FL, 95th Edition, Internet Version 2015, accessed December 2014.

  • Tables of Physical & Chemical Constants, Kaye & Laby Online, 16th edition, 1995. Version 1.0 (2005), accessed December 2014.

  • J. S. Coursey, D. J. Schwab, J. J. Tsai, and R. A. Dragoset, Atomic Weights and Isotopic Compositions (version 4.1), 2015, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, accessed November 2016.

  • T. L. Cottrell, The Strengths of Chemical Bonds, Butterworth, London, 1954.

  • John Emsley, Nature’s Building Blocks: An A-Z Guide to the Elements, Oxford University Press, New York, 2nd Edition, 2011.

  • Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility - Office of Science Education, It’s Elemental - The Periodic Table of Elements, accessed December 2014.