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Antimony

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Antimony
Antimony
General Info
Atomic Symbol Atomic symbol::Sb
Atomic Number Atomic number::51
Atomic Weight Atomic weight::121.760 g/mol
Chemical series metalloids
Appearance silvery solid
Sample antimony.jpg
Group, Period, Block 15, 5, p-block
Electron configuration [Kr ] 4d10, 5s2, 5p3
Electrons per shell 2, 8, 18, 18, 5
Electron shell antimony.png
CAS number CAS number::7440-36-0
Physical properties
Phase Solid at room temperature
Density Density::6.684 g/ml
Melting point Melting point::631 °C
Boiling point Boiling point::1380 °C
Isotopes of Antimony
iso NA half-life DT DE (MeV) DP
121Sb 57.36% 121Sb is stable with 70 neutrons.
123Sb 42.64% 123Sb is stable with 72 neutrons.
125Sb syn 2.7582Y β 0.767 125Te
All properties are for STP unless otherwise stated.

Antimony is a solid metalloid chemical element that belongs to the pnictogen group.[1] The name "Antimony" comes from two Greek words. The first "anti" means not and the second "monos" means alone. The name suits the element because it is extremely hard to find alone in nature. [2] The chemical symbol for Antimony (Sb), comes from its historic name which is Stibium.[3]

Antimony was discovered in 1450 by Basil Valentine of Germany, but has been used since ancient times. It is found mentioned in the Old Testament of the Bible where Jezebel used Antimony as her eye-makeup. Currently Antimony is used to make yellow and white pigment and to vulcanize rubber and plastics so that when they are exposed to heat they don't become soft and they also make materials fireproof.[4]

Properties

Antimony powder
Stibnite (Antimony Sulfide)

Antimony does not conduct electricity or heat very well.[5] When Antimony is isolated it comes out as pure antimony and along with its compounds are extremely poisonous that it can mimic arsenic. Antimony can be found in two states. One of them is the metallic state where it is a vivid, silvery, fragile, and a crystalline solid. In the other state it is a grey powder. It is not bothered by dilute acids or alkalies and will remain stable in dry air. When cooled Antimony, along with some of its alloys are able to expand.[6] When compared to arsenic it is very alike in both chemical and physical properties. Antimony belongs to a group of chemicals known as metalloids. Metalloids are elements that have characteristics of both metals and nonmetals. Antimony is a metalloid because of its inability to conduct heat and electricity well. Also, because it is easily broken, delicate, not pliable, and can be easily ground into a powder. The more pure that Antimony gets the weaker it becomes. Antimony gets most of its strength from its impurities.[7]

There are four known allotropic forms of Antimony. They are called grey, black, yellow and explosive. The grey allotrope of Antimony is the only form that can be found in nature and that is stable. The color of the grey allotrope, of metallic Antimony, is a silvery white and has a purplish or bluish shine. The rest of the allotropes are unstable. The black allotrope is a shapeless black powder that, when exposed to air at an atmospheric temperature, oxidizes. The yellow allotrope will reach stability when exposed to a temperature of -90 degrees Celsius but if it kept in a temperature higher than that, it will turn into black Antimony and then oxidize. The fourth allotrope is called explosive Antimony. It received its name from its tendency to produce a strong explosion when struck or rubbed.[8]

Occurrences

Antimony is frequently found from the ores stibnite and valentinite. It can occasionally be found free in nature but it is very rare.[9] It is seldom found in large enough amounts to use. Because of that it needs to be isolated from other compounds. Over 100 kinds of minerals contain Antimony. The mineral that is used the most to isolate Antimony is called stibnite, also known as antimonite. [10] Antimony can be isolated from arsenic but it is very hard. There are many countries that have stibnite mines. These countries are China, South Africa, Bolivia, Tajikistan, and Russia.[11]

Uses

An old Chinese dragon made out of Antimony

Because Antimony is a poor conductor of heat and electricity it is primarily used as a hardener that is combined with lead to make it last longer. It is also found in matches, plumbing, soldering, and for diode production because of its semiconducting quality.[12] Alloys of Antimony are found in batteries, low friction metals, type metal and cable sheathing. Antimony is also formed into compounds that are used to make fire proof materials, paints, ceramic enamels, glass and pottery. Another use that it had was as black make-up for the ancient Egyptians.[13]

Hazards

Antimony and many of its compounds are very poisonous. Although it also depends on the chemical state that it is in. Many of the salts that Antimony is a part of are said to be carcinogenic. If Antimony is released into the air it may cause irritation of the eyes, skin, and lungs. After breathing it in for a while it will create problems with the lungs, heart, and induce stomach pains, diarrhea, vomiting and stomach ulcers. [14] Antimony may be present in food, water, and even in the soil. Although Antimony is toxic it is used in some parasital infection medicine. Though to much of it can be deadly.One of the ways that Antimony travels through the land is through groundwater. There have been tests done on animals to see the affect that it would have on them. If animals are exposed to high levels of antimony some effects might be lung, heart, liver, and kidney damage just before death. Exposure to low levels might cause eye irritation, hair loss and lung damage. Exposure to low levels of Antimony for a few months might cause problems with the reproductive system.[15]

References

  • Antimony Mark Winter,The University of Sheffield and WebElements Ltd, UK, 1993-2009.
  • Antimony Lenntech Water treatment & purification Holding B.V, 1998-2009.
  • The Element Antimony Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility, 12/2/09.
  • Antimony Chemblick, 12/2/09.
  • Antimony Sciencefairadventure.com, 2007.
  • Antimony University of California, 2003.
  • Antimony Chemicool Periodic Table. 12/14/2009
  • Properties of Antimony 11 Mar. 2009 EzineArticles.com. 15 Dec. 2009.
  • Antimony 1975 - 1981 by David Wallechinsky & Irving Wallace