Tantalum

16.4
180.948
[Xe] 4f145d36s2
180Ta, 181Ta
5
6
d
73
2, 8, 18, 32, 11, 2
728.423
Ta
16.4
3017°C, 5463°F, 3290 K
5455°C, 9851°F, 5728 K
Anders Gustav Ekeberg
1802
7440-25-7
22395
More Information
expand all +
collapse all -

Uses and Properties

Image Explanation

Tantalum finds significant application in the manufacturing of electronic components, where the oxide layer developed on its surface serves as an insulating (dielectric) layer. Utilizing tantalum for coating other metals in an ultra-thin layer enables the attainment of high capacitance within a compact volume.

Appearance

A shiny, silvery metal that is very resistant to corrosion.

Uses

Tantalum: Powering the Electronics Revolution


In the ever-evolving landscape of technology, certain elements stand out as unsung heroes, playing a pivotal role behind the scenes. Tantalum (Ta), with its unique properties and versatility, emerges as a silent force driving innovation in the world of electronics. From powering smartphones to fueling advancements in aerospace technology, tantalum's applications span across various industries, underscoring its significance in the modern era. Let's explore the diverse and essential uses of tantalum that contribute to the electronics revolution.

 

1. Electronic Components


One of the primary applications of tantalum lies in the realm of electronic components. Tantalum capacitors, known for their exceptional stability and reliability, are widely used in electronic devices ranging from smartphones and laptops to medical equipment and automotive electronics. The ability to provide high capacitance in a small volume makes tantalum capacitors indispensable in applications where space is a critical factor.

 

2. Tantalum Capacitors


Tantalum capacitors owe their popularity to the unique properties of tantalum oxide, which forms a thin and stable dielectric layer on the surface of tantalum. This oxide layer acts as an insulator, allowing tantalum capacitors to store and release electrical energy efficiently. The reliability, compact size, and high capacitance of tantalum capacitors make them ideal for applications demanding precision and miniaturization.

 

3. Aerospace Technology


Tantalum's resilience and resistance to corrosion make it a favored material in aerospace technology. Components such as jet engine parts, satellite components, and space exploration equipment benefit from tantalum's ability to withstand harsh environmental conditions. Its high melting point and durability contribute to the efficiency and longevity of critical aerospace systems.

 

4. Medical Devices


In the field of medical technology, tantalum plays a crucial role in the development of life-saving devices. Implantable medical devices, such as pacemakers and hearing aids, utilize tantalum capacitors for their reliability and long operational life. Tantalum's compatibility with the human body, coupled with its stability in varied environments, makes it an ideal choice for applications within the medical industry.

 

5. Chemical Processing Equipment


Tantalum's resistance to corrosion, even in aggressive chemical environments, positions it as a valuable material in the manufacturing of chemical processing equipment. Tantalum vessels, heat exchangers, and other components are employed in industries such as petrochemicals and pharmaceuticals, where exposure to corrosive substances is a constant challenge.

 

6. Super Alloys


Tantalum's inclusion in super alloys enhances the mechanical properties of metals, particularly in high-temperature environments. Components such as turbine blades in gas turbines benefit from the added strength and stability provided by tantalum, ensuring reliable performance in aerospace and industrial applications.

 

7. Consumer Electronics


Tantalum's reach extends to the consumer electronics market, where its application in the production of smartphones, tablets, and other gadgets is prevalent. Tantalum capacitors contribute to the efficient operation of these devices, ensuring stable power supply and enabling the miniaturization of electronic components.

 

8. Energy Storage


As the demand for efficient energy storage solutions grows, tantalum capacitors play a role in energy storage applications. Their ability to deliver high capacitance and stability makes them suitable for use in devices like uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) and energy storage systems, contributing to the reliability of power delivery.

 

9. Research and Development


In laboratories and research institutions, tantalum finds applications in experimental setups and equipment where resistance to corrosion and stability are essential. Its use as a material for specialized tools and components underscores its significance in advancing scientific research and development.

 

10. Global Sustainability


The responsible sourcing of tantalum has become a key focus in recent years, given its prevalence in electronics and its potential connection to conflict minerals. Efforts to ensure ethical and sustainable mining practices, often referred to as "conflict-free tantalum," aim to address concerns related to social and environmental impacts in tantalum-producing regions.

 

Conclusion


Tantalum's role in the electronics revolution is multifaceted and indispensable. From powering the devices we use daily to contributing to advancements in aerospace, medical technology, and beyond, tantalum's unique properties make it a key player in modern innovation. As technology continues to progress, tantalum's applications are likely to expand further, paving the way for new breakthroughs and ensuring its enduring importance in shaping the future of electronics and beyond.

History

The history of Tantalum (Ta) is a tale woven through the fabric of scientific exploration, tantalizing discoveries, and the enduring quest to unveil the secrets of the periodic table. This enigmatic element, named after the tantalizing myths of Greek mythology, has a history that traverses continents and spans centuries, revealing a journey marked by curiosity, persistence, and the relentless pursuit of knowledge. Join us as we delve into the captivating history of Tantalum, from its early discovery to its crucial role in modern technology.

 

1. The Mythical Origins


The story of Tantalum begins not in the laboratory but in the rich tapestry of Greek mythology. Tantalus, a figure condemned to eternal torment, lent his name to this elusive element. The name "Tantalum" was bestowed upon the element due to the challenges early chemists faced in extracting it from tantalite ores, reflecting the tantalizing nature of its discovery.

 

2. Early Encounters


While Tantalum's mythical name captured the imagination, its physical existence remained hidden for centuries. The first recorded encounter with tantalite minerals, rich in Tantalum, occurred in the early 19th century. Swedish chemist Anders Gustaf Ekeberg discovered tantalite in 1802 but was unable to isolate the elusive element within.

 

3. A Danish Duo


The breakthrough in isolating Tantalum came through the collaborative efforts of two Danish chemists, Heinrich Rose and Jöns Jacob Berzelius, in the early 19th century. In 1820, Rose and Berzelius successfully isolated Tantalum pentoxide (Ta2O5) from tantalite ores, marking the first tangible step towards unraveling the mysteries of this newfound element.

 

4. The Confirmation


Despite the isolation of tantalum pentoxide, the isolation of metallic tantalum remained a formidable challenge. It wasn't until 1846 that German chemist Heinrich Klaproth successfully reduced tantalum pentoxide to obtain metallic tantalum. This breakthrough marked the official confirmation of tantalum as a distinct element, adding a new chapter to the periodic table.

 

5. Tantalum in the Industrial Era


The late 19th and early 20th centuries witnessed the industrial application of tantalum, particularly in the emerging field of electricity. Tantalum's resistance to corrosion and its ability to form stable oxide layers made it valuable for manufacturing filaments in incandescent light bulbs and early electronic devices.

 

6. Tantalum in World Wars


The strategic importance of tantalum became evident during the two World Wars. Tantalum alloys played a critical role in manufacturing military equipment and electronic components. Its unique combination of high melting point and resistance to corrosion made it invaluable for applications in aviation, communication, and radar systems.

 

7. The Columbite-Tantalite Connection


The association of tantalum with columbite, a mineral often found alongside tantalite, led to the coining of the term "columbite-tantalite" or coltan. This mineral combination became a significant source of tantalum, and the demand for tantalum increased with the growing electronics industry in the latter half of the 20th century.

 

8. Tantalum's Rise in Electronics


The latter part of the 20th century witnessed a surge in tantalum's prominence, particularly in the electronics industry. Tantalum capacitors, known for their compact size, reliability, and high capacitance, became integral to the production of electronic devices. The miniaturization of technology, from mobile phones to computers, was made possible by the efficiency of tantalum capacitors.

 

9. Ethical Mining Concerns


The increased demand for tantalum, coupled with its association with conflict regions, raised ethical concerns regarding its mining practices. Efforts to ensure responsible sourcing and ethical mining, often referred to as "conflict-free tantalum," have become crucial to addressing social and environmental issues associated with tantalum production.

 

10. Tantalum in the 21st Century


In the 21st century, tantalum continues to be a vital component in electronic devices, medical equipment, aerospace technology, and more. Ongoing research explores tantalum's potential in emerging technologies, ensuring its relevance in an era defined by rapid technological advancements.

 

Conclusion


The history of Tantalum is a testament to the enduring human quest for knowledge and innovation. From the mythical echoes of Greek mythology to its pivotal role in modern technology, tantalum's journey has been one of discovery, challenges, and contributions to the advancements that shape our world. As tantalum continues to power the electronics revolution, its storied past serves as a reminder of the remarkable journey undertaken to unlock the secrets of this captivating element.

Atomic Data

Atomic Radiues, Non-bonded (A): 2.22
Electron Affinity (kJ mol-1): 31.068
Covalent Radiues (A): 1.58
Electronegativity (Pauling Scale): 1.5
Ionisation Energies (kJ mol-1) 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th
728.423 - - - - - - -

Oxidation States and Isotopes

Common oxidation states 1
Isotope Atomic Mass Natural Abundance Half Life Mode of Decay
180Ta 179.947 0.012 3.65 x 1016 y -
4.5 x 1016 y β-
> 2.0 x 1016 y EC
181Ta 180.948 99.988 - -
 

Supply Risk

Relative Supply Risk: 7.1
Crustal Abundance (ppm): 0.7
Recycle Rate (%): <10
Production Conc.(%) : 25
Top 3 Producers:
1) Brazil
2) Rwanda
3) China
Top 3 Reserve Holders:
1) Brazil
2) Australia
3) Mozambique
Substitutability: Medium
Political Stability of Top Producer: 48.1
Political Stability of Top Reserve Holder: 48.1

Pressure and Temperature Data

Specific Heat Capacity: 140
Shear Modulus: 69.2
Young Modulus: 185.7
Bulk Modulus: Unknown
Pressure 400k Pressure 600k Pressure 800k Pressure 1000k Pressure 1200k Pressure 1400k Pressure 1600k Pressure 1800k Pressure 2000k Pressure 2200k Pressure 2400k
- - - - - - - - 3.36 x 10-10 1.87 x 10-8 Unknown

Podcast

Transcript:

Welcome to another episode of "Talking About Elements," the podcast where we delve deep into the fascinating world of chemical elements. I'm your host, and today we have an intriguing element to explore. Tantalum.

Tantalum, with its atomic number 73 and symbol T a, has a rich history that spans several centuries. Its name originates from the Greek mythological figure Tantalus, who was punished by the gods for his misdeeds. In 1802, Swedish chemist Anders Ekeberg discovered Tantalum, but it wasn't until 1903 that American chemist Charles Hatchett fully characterized it.

Tantalum's unique properties captured the attention of the scientific community, leading to further exploration and experimentation.

Tantalum possesses several remarkable properties that make it highly sought after. Tantalum boasts a melting point of 3,017 degrees Celsius (5,463 degrees Fahrenheit), making it exceptionally heat-resistant. Tantalum is highly resistant to corrosion by acids and is often used in environments where other materials would rapidly degrade. It is one of the densest elements, which lends itself well to applications requiring weight and space savings.

Tantalum is not abundant in nature, which makes it relatively rare compared to other elements. It is primarily found in tantalite and columbite minerals, with significant deposits located in countries like Australia, Brazil, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The extraction process involves refining Tantalum ores to obtain Tantalum pentoxide, the precursor for Tantalum metal production.

The production of Tantalum metal involves a series of complex steps, including.

Tantalum-bearing ores are extracted from mines worldwide.

The ores are processed to extract Tantalum pentoxide (Ta2O5).

Tantalum pentoxide is then reduced to Tantalum metal through a chemical process using carbon or hydrogen.

The resulting Tantalum metal is further purified to remove impurities.

Tantalum is an incredibly versatile element with a multitude of applications across various industries.

Tantalum capacitors are widely used in electronic devices, such as smartphones and laptops, due to their small size and high capacitance.

Tantalum's heat-resistant properties make it invaluable in the production of components for spacecraft and aircraft engines.

Tantalum is used in the construction of equipment that handles corrosive chemicals, thanks to its exceptional resistance to corrosion.

Tantalum is employed in the production of medical implants like dental implants and bone screws due to its biocompatibility.

Tantalum is an essential component in superalloys used in jet engines and gas turbines for its ability to withstand high temperatures.

Unfortunately, the Tantalum trade has a dark side, as it has been linked to conflict minerals. In some regions, Tantalum mining has fueled armed conflicts and human rights abuses. However, efforts are being made to ensure the responsible sourcing of Tantalum to mitigate these issues.

Given Tantalum's scarcity, recycling plays a crucial role in maintaining a sustainable supply. Tantalum can be efficiently recycled from old electronics, reducing the need for new mining and minimizing environmental impact.

The demand for Tantalum is expected to continue growing, driven by advancements in technology, aerospace, and the increasing need for sustainable materials. Researchers are also exploring novel applications for Tantalum, such as in energy storage and high-performance alloys.

Tantalum, with its remarkable properties and wide-ranging applications, is an element that has left an indelible mark on various industries. From powering your electronic devices to ensuring the safety of aerospace travel, Tantalum's contributions to modern life are immeasurable.

As we celebrate its history, embrace its potential for the future, and strive for ethical sourcing, Tantalum remains a symbol of the intricate relationship between science, industry, and responsibility.

Thank you for joining us on this journey into the world of Tantalum. Stay tuned for more exciting explorations of the elements on "Talking About Elements."

References


  • 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.