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Gallium

What Is Gallium?

Gallium is a chemical element that does not occur in nature but is found in trace amounts in bauxite and zinc ores and is obtained through the smelting process. Gallium has a silver hue, is soft and brittle and is classified as a poor metal. It liquefies or melts at above room temperature and is therefore not suitable for use in certain applications like its metallic neighbours.

What Is Gallium Used For?

Gallium attacks other metals by diffusing into their metal lattice and is therefore mostly used with aluminium in the creation of alloys. Gallium is used as a semiconductor in infrared applications and in microwave circuitry.

It is used in the production of solid-state transistors and other electronic devices as well as in fuel cells. Solar panels use gallium as a replacement for silicon, which makes them more efficient energy wise. Gallium is used in thermometers, pharmaceuticals, radiopharmaceuticals and in arthritic topical creams.

Where Is Gallium Produced?

France is the leading refiner of gallium metal with Russia, Canada and Kazakhstan also producing it from scrap and impure metals.

Conclusion

Gallium is a poor metal not found in a natural state but as trace elements in bauxite and zinc ores. It has a low liquefying point, is soft and brittle in solid form. Gallium is used in medical practices and pharmaceuticals, in alloys and as semiconductors. France is the top producer of Gallium.

If you would like to learn more about minerals and mining visit our Mining and Metals page.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

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