Tantalum (Ta)

Mason Brown

Background Knowledge

Tantalum was found in 1804. Tantalum was discovered in Sweden by a Swedish chemist and mineralogist named, Anders Gustaf Ekenberg. He and a few other scientists found this metal in a batch of minerals off one of the mining sites. At first the chemists thought it was an allotrope of niobium (An element that is chemically alike to tantalum). NOPE! Ekenberg and his colleagues found one of the metals that are in everyday household electronics. One year earlier, Charles Hatchett discovered the element known as columbium. In 1809, the English chemist William Hyde Wollaston compared the oxides that came from columbium--columbite, and tantalum--tantalite, concluded that both oxides were completely identical. The conclusion was later disputed by German chemist Heinrich Rose, who argued about how that there were two additional elements that were added to the tantalite samples. Rose named the two elements after the children of Tantalus. Pelopium (from Pelops) and niobium (from Niobe, the goddess of tears). So the discovery of one element and the ambition and dedication of many scientists in years to come. discovered not only one, but three different elements!

Physical Properties

Atomic Mass: 180.9479

Atomic Radius (pm): 200pm

Density: 16.650 g/cc

Melting Point: 3017 Degrees Celsius

Boiling Point: 5458 Degrees Celsius

Tantalum is a SOLID at room temperature

The appearance of tantalum is

Conductivity: thermal conductivity is 57.5 W/(m*K)

Malleability: very malleable and ductile (capable of being drawn into thin wires)

Hardness: very hard material

Chemical Properties

Flammability: Tantalum is not flammable

Reactivity: Tantalum is extremely corrosion-resistant

Applications and Uses

Tantalum is not used in too many things in today's society. However, it definitely will be used more in the future. At this point in time, tantalum is used for the making of Capacitors in electronics as well as used for medical parts such as skull plates for implants. As our knowledge of technology of electronics advances, so will the amount of uses tantalum has. Tantalum is used as a substitute for platinum in laboratory equipment.

Identifying Tantalum

Tantalum has a mass number of 181. It is number 73 on the Periodic Table of the Elements, being so it has an atomic number of 73. Tantalum has 73 protons and 73 electrons. Tantalum also had 108 neutrons.

Isotopes of tantalum

Ta-180: lowest occurring abundances of all naturally occurring isotopes. Can be produced but in only “minute” quantities and is VERY VERY expensive

Ta-181: can be used for the production of W-178 which then decays to Ta-178

Many radioactive isotopes of tantalum have been made artificially. NONE have been released for commercial use.

Fun Facts!

Tantalum was named after the Greek mythology antihero Tantalus.
Tantalum - Periodic Table of Videos