Tellurium

6.232
127.60
[Kr] 4d105s25p4
130Te
16
5
p
52
2, 8, 18, 18, 6
869.294
Te
6.232
449.51°C, 841.12°F, 722.66 K
988°C, 1810°F, 1261 K
Franz-Joseph Müller von Reichenstein
1783
13494-80-9
4885717
More Information
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Uses and Properties

Image Explanation

Tellurium dioxide (TeO2), a semimetal frequently occurring in conjunction with gold and other metals, is instrumental in the manufacturing of rewritable CDs (Compact Discs) and DVDs (Digital Versatile Discs).

Appearance

A semi-metal usually obtained as a grey powder.

Uses

Tellurium: Unveiling the Silent Innovator in Technology


In the vast realm of elements, Tellurium emerges as a quiet protagonist, wielding its unique properties to shape and advance various technological frontiers. As a semimetal with remarkable characteristics, Tellurium plays a pivotal role in diverse applications that range from electronics to solar energy, leaving an indelible mark on the landscape of innovation.

 

1. Semiconductor Powerhouse:


Tellurium is a critical component in the creation of certain types of semiconductors. When combined with other elements, such as cadmium or mercury, it forms compounds known as cadmium telluride (CdTe) and mercury telluride (HgTe). These compounds exhibit semiconductor properties, making them invaluable for applications in electronics and optoelectronics.

 

2. Solar Energy Revolution:


One of the most promising and impactful applications of Tellurium lies in the field of solar energy. CdTe, a compound derived from Tellurium, is a key material in thin-film photovoltaic solar cells. These cells have gained prominence for their efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and the ability to be integrated into various surfaces. Tellurium's role in enhancing the efficiency of solar panels contributes significantly to the ongoing quest for sustainable and renewable energy sources.

 

3. Optical Storage Mastery:


Tellurium's role in rewritable optical storage devices, such as CDs and DVDs, highlights its contribution to modern data storage technology. Tellurium-based alloys, often combined with antimony and germanium, enable the phase-change technology that facilitates high-speed rewriting capabilities. This makes Tellurium a silent but crucial player in the evolution of how we store and manage digital information.

 

4. Alloying for Enhancement:


Beyond its solo performances, Tellurium engages in synergistic collaborations as an alloying element. Alloys like Tellurium-copper enhance the machinability and cutting properties of copper, making them ideal for specific industrial applications. These alloys find use in the production of electrical components and machine parts, showcasing Tellurium's versatility in enhancing material properties.

 

5. Thermoelectric Advancements:


Tellurium's thermoelectric properties make it an essential element in the development of thermoelectric materials. Thermoelectric devices convert heat into electricity, and Tellurium-based materials play a crucial role in improving the efficiency of these devices. This application has implications for waste heat recovery and the creation of energy-efficient cooling systems.

 

6. Metallurgy Marvel:


Tellurium's influence extends into the realm of metallurgy, where it finds applications in enhancing the properties of certain metals. In copper and lead alloys, Tellurium improves machinability and wear resistance. This makes these alloys well-suited for manufacturing processes that demand precision and durability, such as in the production of bearings and electrical connectors.

 

7. Biological Tracer and Imaging Agent:


In the field of medicine, Tellurium, specifically in the form of radioactive tellurium-123 and tellurium-125, is used as a tracer in biological studies. Its radioisotopes can be employed to track and analyze the behavior of certain compounds in living organisms. This application has implications in medical research and diagnostic imaging.

 

8. Niche Applications:


Tellurium's unique properties have also found application in niche areas. In the production of vulcanizing agents for rubber, Tellurium dioxide contributes to enhancing the elasticity and durability of rubber products. Additionally, Tellurium is used in the glass industry to decolorize glass and improve its clarity.

 

Conclusion: Tellurium - The Unsung Hero of Technological Progress


While Tellurium may not occupy the spotlight in everyday conversations, its influence resonates through the intricate tapestry of modern technology. From powering our electronic devices with semiconductor innovations to harnessing the sun's energy through efficient solar panels, Tellurium silently drives advancements that shape the way we live, work, and interact with the world.

As technology continues to evolve and the quest for sustainable solutions gains momentum, the unassuming Tellurium stands poised at the intersection of innovation and necessity. Its unique properties, often behind the scenes, underscore its role as a silent innovator, contributing to a future where technology is not just efficient but also environmentally conscious. In the symphony of elements, Tellurium plays a tune of progress, and its melody resonates through the myriad applications that define our modern age.

History

In the vast tapestry of elemental history, Tellurium, denoted by the symbol Te, emerges as a mysterious and versatile player with a journey spanning centuries. This semimetal, often found in association with gold and other metals, has quietly woven its way through various epochs, leaving an indelible mark on alchemy, industry, and modern technology.

 

1. Alchemical Origins: The Early Encounters with Element T


The history of Tellurium can be traced back to the early days of alchemy, where the search for the philosopher's stone and the transmutation of base metals into gold captivated the minds of scholars. Though not fully understood at the time, Tellurium found itself entwined in the intricate symbolism of alchemical pursuits. Its rarity and distinctive properties made it a subject of fascination, earning it a place in the alchemical lexicon.

 

2. Discovery and Isolation: The Dawn of Element T


Tellurium's journey takes a concrete turn in the late 18th century when it was independently discovered by two European chemists. Franz-Joseph Müller von Reichenstein, a mining engineer of Romanian origin, first isolated Tellurium in 1782. His work laid the foundation for subsequent investigations by chemists such as Martin Heinrich Klaproth and others, leading to the recognition of Tellurium as a distinct element.

 

3. The Tellurium Odyssey in the 19th Century: Alloys and Applications


As the 19th century unfolded, Tellurium started making its presence felt in the realm of metallurgy. The formation of Tellurium alloys, particularly with lead and copper, showcased its ability to enhance the properties of these metals. Tellurium-copper alloys, for instance, became renowned for their improved machinability and casting qualities, setting the stage for Tellurium's role in industrial applications.

 

4. Tellurium in the Early 20th Century: Advancements and Beyond


The early 20th century witnessed a surge in Tellurium-related advancements. Its application in the vulcanization of rubber, which contributed to the elasticity and durability of rubber products, marked a significant industrial development. The versatility of Tellurium continued to unfold as its compounds found utility in diverse sectors, ranging from electronics to metallurgy.

 

5. The Electronic Era: Tellurium in Semiconductors


Tellurium's transformative role gained momentum with the rise of the electronic era. Its compounds, such as cadmium telluride (CdTe) and bismuth telluride (Bi2Te3), emerged as key players in semiconductor technology. CdTe, in particular, became crucial in the development of thin-film photovoltaic solar cells, paving the way for more efficient and cost-effective solar energy solutions.

 

6. Optical Storage Revolution: Tellurium in Rewritable Media


Tellurium etched its name in the annals of technological history with its role in optical storage devices. The phase-change technology in rewritable CDs and DVDs owes its functionality to Tellurium-based alloys. The ability of these alloys to undergo rapid phase transitions enables high-speed rewriting capabilities, revolutionizing the way we store and access digital information.

 

7. Environmental Considerations: The Tellurium Challenge


As Tellurium's applications expanded, so did the challenges associated with its extraction and supply. Tellurium is a relatively rare element, often found in conjunction with gold and other metals. Balancing the growing demand for Tellurium in various industries with environmental sustainability becomes a crucial consideration for researchers, industries, and policymakers.

 

8. Tellurium in the 21st Century: Towards Sustainability and Beyond


As we navigate the 21st century, Tellurium stands at the crossroads of innovation and sustainability. The quest for cleaner energy solutions propels ongoing research into advanced materials and technologies, where Tellurium continues to play a pivotal role. Its applications in solar energy, electronics, and other fields underscore its relevance in shaping a future that prioritizes efficiency, sustainability, and technological progress.

 

Conclusion: The Unveiling Continues


The enigmatic journey of Tellurium, from alchemical mysteries to the forefront of modern technology, paints a portrait of an element that has silently shaped the course of human progress. As we unravel the mysteries of Tellurium, its unique properties continue to inspire innovation and drive advancements across a spectrum of industries. In the ongoing tale of Element T, each chapter reveals new facets of its versatility, leaving us to wonder about the untold stories that lie ahead.

Atomic Data

Atomic Radiues, Non-bonded (A): 2.06
Electron Affinity (kJ mol-1): 190.161
Covalent Radiues (A): 1.37
Electronegativity (Pauling Scale): 2.1
Ionisation Energies (kJ mol-1) 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th
869.294 1794.6 2697.73 3609.52 5668.51 6821.5 13218 -

Oxidation States and Isotopes

Common oxidation states 6, 4, -2
Isotope Atomic Mass Natural Abundance Half Life Mode of Decay
120Te 119.904 0.09 1.9 x 1017 y β+EC
122Te 121.903 2.55 - -
123Te 122.904 0.89 > 9.2 x 1016 y EC
124Te 123.903 4.74 - -
125Te 124.904 7.07 - -
126Te 125.903 18.84 - β-β-
128Te 127.904 31.74 2.2 x 1024 y β-β-
130Te 129.906 34.08 8 x 1020 y -
 

Supply Risk

Relative Supply Risk: Unknown
Crustal Abundance (ppm): 0.001
Recycle Rate (%): Unknown
Production Conc.(%) : Unknown
Top 3 Producers:
Unknown
Top 3 Reserve Holders:
Unknown
Substitutability: Unknown
Political Stability of Top Producer: Unknown
Political Stability of Top Reserve Holder: Unknown

Pressure and Temperature Data

Specific Heat Capacity: 202
Shear Modulus: Unknown
Young Modulus: Unknown
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
- - - - - - - - - - Unknown

Podcast

Transcript :

Tellurium, or T e, is a semimetallic chemical element. It has an atomic number of 52. Its name is derived from the Latin word 'tellus', which refers to the earth. Tellurium is a member of the chalcogen family. It is chemically related to selenium and sulphur.

It is no secret that Tellurium has been a hot commodity since its discovery in the late 19th century. During the 1700s, scientists were confused about a substance that they found in various ores. In 1798, Martin H. Klaproth discovered and isolated this element.

He first detected Tellurium in the form of a silvery white metalloid in the calaverite, a telluride of gold. This substance is rarely observed in its elemental state. Several years before, Müller von Reichenstein had made the same observations on the new element. The chemists had spent a long time trying to determine its atomic mass. Mendeleev concluded that he would have to re-calculate its atomic mass. But the atom's size is the same as that of lead, which is a subordinate element to bismuth.

Although Tellurium has a low abundance on earth, it is found in many ores. The most common sources are porphyry copper deposits. Copper ore bodies contain Tellurium as a byproduct. Today, this metal is mined in Canada, Russia, and Japan. The United States Geological Survey estimates that the country produces about 400 to 500 metric tons a year. A recent round of copper production techniques has reduced this output but that is likely a short term phenomenon. As with most mineral commodities, the market is dominated by a few major players. One of the most interesting Tellurium production companies is the Yunnan Chihong Zinc & Germanium Co. This company has been making ingots for more than a century and has been responsible for some of the largest quantities of Tellurium ever fetched. Tellurium is an oxygen-based chalcogen that is found in some ores. Tellurium occurs in many minerals. These include sylvanite and telluride. However, this element is less common in metallic sulfide ores. Tellurium is rare and its abundance on Earth is less than one part in a billion. Specifically, Tellurium is found in the ores of lead, silver, copper, and bismuth.

Tellurium is a silver-white element. Usually, it is available as dark grey powder. When Tellurium is precipitated from acid, it appears to have an amorphous structure. However, when it is exposed to standard conditions, it slowly transforms into a crystalline modification. Tellurium has properties similar to those of metals, and this element is usually alloyed with copper and lead. In some alloys it increases the hardness of the metals. It is also a component of dust from blast furnace refining of lead. When burnt in air, Tellurium emits a greenish-blue flame.

Tellurium is a poor conductor of heat, and a fair conductor of electricity. Unlike most metals, it does not dissolve easily in water or hydrochloric acid. In addition, of the chalcogens, Tellurium has the highest melting and boiling points, at 449.51°C and 988ºC, respectively. Tellurium has two allotropes. One is crystalline. This form consists of parallel helical chains of atoms, which resists to oxidation by air.

Another form is amorphous. This is produced by precipitating telluric acid from a solution of the metal. When crystalline, this element is silvery-white.

Tellurium is a material that is used in a variety of applications. The most common use is in the production of nuclear energy. In addition to this, it can be found in many industrial and consumer products. A crystalline form of Tellurium is used in certain electronic devices. Nanostructures have been made for numerous applications, including in nanomedicine. It is also used as a coloring agent in glass, ceramics, porcelains, and chinaware. This element is also used as a vulcanizing agent in rubber production and as a catalyst in the production of synthetic fibers. Tellurium is used as an additive in the production of steels. Aside from its uses in metallurgical and chemical applications, Tellurium is also found in a variety of electrical devices and optical technologies. Tellurium is an important material for the United States military, mainly in infrared detectors. These detectors allow the US military to gain a strategic advantage at night.

Tellurium is also a catalyst for petroleum cracking and is used in blasting caps. It is also used as a coloring agent in glass. Tellurium is a component in acousto-optic modulators. Some of its compounds are used in solar blind photomultiplier tubes, as a pigment for high brightness photo injectors.

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.

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