Tellurium is a rare, silvery-white, semi-metallic element which exhibits both metallic and non-metallic traits and has an abundance of 0.005 ppm in the earth’s crust. It exists in only one form, whereas the other members of the oxygen group of elements in the periodic table all exhibit at least two allotropic forms. It is generally found in combination with other elements, and can be isolated from the fine dusts of telluride gold ores. Tellurium will burn in air and oxygen, is unaffected by water or HCl, but is soluble in HNO3. Tellurium has p-type semiconductor properties and, hence, is used in the electronics industry. The metal is used in the refining of zinc where it eliminates cobalt from the process. Other metallurgical applications include its use as an alloying element with, for example copper and stainless steel, the resulting alloys having improved machineability. Contact with either the pure metal or its compounds is to be avoided as they are not only toxic, but inhalation of the vapours leads to unpleasant body odours!


1783 by Baron Franz Josef Mu¨ller von Reichenstein in Sibiu, Roumania.

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Atomic number 52 Clip
Atomic / Molecular Weight 127.6 gmol-1Clip
Density 6247 kgm-3Clip
Crystal Structure hcp Clip
Lattice constant 446 fmClip
Melting Point 723 KClip
Boiling Point 1273 KClip
Specific heat capacity 201 Jkg-1K-1Clip
Electromotive Series 0.827 VClip
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See also: Periodic Table.

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Subjects: Chemistry