Mercury Hg

The chemical symbol, Hg, comes from the Latin word "hydragyrum" which means liquid silver, it being the most common liquid metal at room temperature. As a liquid, the metal is extremely mobile and dense and as a solid, it is ductile and malleable. It is a readily accessible element as it occurs in concentrated ores, mercury (II) oxide being decomposed by heating alone at around 500C, at which temperature mercury distils out. The element and many of its compounds are extremely toxic and, as mercury has a relatively high vapour pressure at room temperature, mercury surfaces should always be kept covered to reduce vapourisation. The use of mercury and its compounds has been reduced due to its toxicity. However, as it acts a "solvent" with most metals where it forms amalgams, it has some use in the field of dental amalgams. It is also used in mercury vapour lamps and many scientific and electrical instruments. One application with which many people will be familiar is the mercury barometer, an instrument used for measuring the pressure of the atmosphere in terms of the height of a column of mercury which exerts an equal pressure. In Latin mercury is argentum vivum, literally "living silver".


Known to ancient civilisations.

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Atomic number 80 Clip
Atomic / Molecular Weight 200.59 gmol-1Clip
Density 13546 kgm-3Clip
Lattice constant 300 fmClip
Melting Point 234.324 KClip
Boiling Point 629.82 KClip
Specific heat capacity 138 Jkg-1K-1Clip
Latent heat of evaporation 290000 Jkg-1Clip
Latent heat of fusion 11700 Jkg-1Clip
Thermal conductivity 7.96 Wm-1K-1Clip
Refractive index 1.73 at 589.3nm 101.3kPa 0CClip
Acoustic wave velocity (Irrotational waves) 1452 ms-1Clip
Velocity of sound 1450 ms-1Clip
Bulk Modulus of Rigidity 26200000000 Nm-2Clip
Surface Tension 0.472 Nm-1Clip
Viscosity 0.001552 Nsm-2Clip
Kinematic Viscosity 1.14572567547616E-07 m2s-1Clip
de Broglie wavelength 0.000000000011 mClip
Electromotive Series -0.85 VClip
Electrical Conductivity 1020000 Sm-1Clip
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See also: Amalgam, Mercury I Chloride, Mercury II Chloride, Mercury II Oxide, Periodic Table, Pressure.

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Subjects: Chemistry