How amazing is gallium? What happens if you can


The mysteries contained in the periodic table of elements far exceed human history. It is more like a microcosm of the universe. The birth of any element has its own history.

Gallium, our protagonist today, is a magical element.

How amazing is gallium? What happens if you can

Metal gallium

The first magic of gallium metal is that it appears to the public in a liquid state, which is already a rarity in the solid metal industry, and in the eyes of people it looks like mercury.

However, it is so similar to mercury that they do not belong to the same family. Metallic aluminum belongs to the same family as gallium metal! Gallium can even react with aluminum.

How amazing is gallium? What happens if you can

Metallic gallium is the most amazing metal element since the creation of the periodic table

What element is metallic gallium? What happens to him with other substances? What happens to acid? What applications do we have for metallic gallium?

Don't worry, we'll answer these questions one by one, let's see how amazing gallium metal is that can "split" a can of Coke?

What element is metallic gallium?

Metallic gallium belongs to group IIIA of the fourth period, which is the same group as aluminum metal.

However, its shape is more like mercury, which is liquid at room temperature. This is due to the fact that the melting point of metallic gallium is very low, less than 30 degrees Celsius. As long as the ambient temperature is too high, it will be liquid.

How amazing is gallium? What happens if you can

Tiny balls of mercury

But the boiling point of metallic gallium is very high, and in order for it to boil, it must reach 2400 degrees.

Unlike its fellow aluminum, gallium is present in very small amounts, because it is the 31st element.

According to the law of nuclear fusion, starting from hydrogen, atoms will undergo nuclear fusion on their own. According to the calculations of chemists, the limit of automatic nuclear fusion in the Universe can reach elements from 26 to 28.

Therefore, metallic gallium is either formed by the earth in extremely harsh conditions, or is an "extraterrestrial guest", like gold.

How amazing is gallium? What happens if you can

The mysterious life experience of metallic gallium

People can directly touch gallium metal, but they can't eat it because, according to experiments, mice ingest substances containing gallium metal and become poisoned.

But don't worry about eating it by mistake. First, for a fatal outcome, a person needs to take more than 750 mg. However, the content of metallic gallium is too low. It is very difficult to see him, let him eat alone.

Unlike most metals, which expand when heated and contract when cooled, gallium metal contracts when heated and expands when cooled. This is because its melting point is too low. At temperatures below 30 degrees, it forms a solid state with a lower density and a larger volume.

Therefore, metallic gallium has a magical phenomenon: even if it is touched by hand in a very cold environment, it will turn into a puddle of liquid drops in the palm of a person.

How amazing is gallium? What happens if you can

Gallium that flows

Because the temperature of the human body is about 36 degrees, gallium metal melts as a result of heat transfer.

People is a small heater for metallic gallium, but this is not the most amazing thing about metallic gallium, but that it can "corrode" metals.

How amazing is gallium? What happens if you can

Metallic gallium "eats" metal

What happens when metallic gallium collides with other substances?

The cans in our lives are made of aluminum, which will corrode with acid. However, aluminum will also be "corroded" by its own metallic gallium.

Drip a jar of liquid metallic gallium, and after a while the contact part will become soft, which can be pierced with a finger, and ordinary people can practice "magic with one finger."

Easy opening jars

It's not just aluminum, the same thing happens when you drop it on steel, iron, aluminium, antimony, copper and other metals.

This does not mean that liquid metallic gallium is corrosive or that the human hand will disappear the moment it is touched.

The reason is that metallic gallium belongs to the same family as aluminum and its surface will oxidize to form oxides which are amphoteric oxides so they can react with metals.

That is, not metallic gallium corrodes other metals, but reacts with them, as a result of which this part becomes thinner and, finally, breaks on impact.

Metallic gallium can "split" not only metals, but also non-metals. It will permeate glass, so gallium metal should not be stored in glass bottles.

Gallium will damage glass

Metal gallium is easily hydrolyzed, so it must be protected from moisture when placed.

Therefore, gallium metal should not be stored in metal containers or glass bottles, it can only be stored in plastic containers in a dry place, if necessary with a desiccant.

What happens when gallium metal meets acid?

Usually, sulfuric acid is used in chemical experiments, and everyone knows its power.

Organic substances never stick to sulfuric acid, and most metals react with it to form hydrogen gas, which explodes when exposed to fire.

Be careful with sulfuric acid when doing experiments

But metallic gallium is relatively soft. When thrown into sulfuric acid, it forms a group in the sulfuric acid and bubbles rise to the surface. This is because it reacts with acid to form hydrogen.

At this time, there was nothing special, but when the wire was inserted close to the drop of metallic gallium, a magical scene appeared, the metallic gallium in the state of the drop suddenly became excited and danced in place.

It is as if there is a thread on an iron wire that pulls a metallic drop of gallium, performing a puppet dance in sulfuric acid.

This is because inserting iron wire is equivalent to stirring sulfuric acid, which increases the contact between the hydrogen ions inside and the gallium metal.

Metallic gallium is in a liquid state in sulfuracid, and its surface tension increases, so a bouncing phenomenon occurs.

Metallic gallium "rebounded" in sulfuric acid

At the same time, iron wire also reacts with sulfuric acid to form hydrogen gas, which forms an intermolecular force with hydrogen gas on the surface of metallic gallium and interacts with each other, which is equivalent to beating together.

If you move the wire away, this will not happen.

Swapping iron wire to copper will also cause these surges, but copper will not react with dilute sulfuric acid, so the surges it causes may not be as intense as iron wire.

In addition, metallic gallium can also react with halogen elements to become a semiconductor material, doubling its value.

In addition to reacting with acids, metallic gallium can also react with alkalis because it is the same as aluminum and has both acidic and alkaline properties. In the field of chemistry, it is the host of acid and alkali.

Metal gallium is not to be underestimated

Unless it's too low, many metals may want to bow down to it. So how do people use such a precious metal?

What is the use of metallic gallium for humans?

The discovery of metallic gallium is very dramatic: first it exists in theory, and then it is confirmed that it actually exists.

Because Mendeleev summarized the periodic table of the elements, chemists of later generations have consistently taken later positions.


According to Mendeleev's theory, under aluminum there is an element with similar properties, which was later discovered by the chemist Bois Baudran.

Metallic gallium is rare and must be extracted from other ores, usually bauxite or sphalerite, and then electrolyzed to produce pure gallium.

In addition, metallic gallium can also be obtained by refining the spent slag of zinc ore and aluminum ore, so metallic gallium obtained with great effort must be used wisely.

Metallic gallium is involved in the reaction, and gallium nitride is an excellent semiconductor material.

Gallium nitride

Pure gallium and low-melting alloys can be used as heat exchange media for nuclear reactions, replacing mercury as thermometer filler to avoid mercury poisoning.

In addition, it can also be used as a diesterification catalyst in organic reactions.

In medicine, metallic gallium and its isotopes can treat malignant tumors, which we often refer to as cancer.

Animal experiments have shown that metallic gallium can improve tumors in experimental mice. It is believed that in the near future it will become a new methodcancer house.

Although the role of metallic gallium is very important, its production is too small, only 20 tons of metallic gallium are mined annually.

Gallium as a precious metal

This is the sum of all countries in the world, yes, you heard right, the sum of global mining.

Therefore, due to the rare content and price, the relevant industries of metallic gallium have remained in a relatively primitive state, and only a few countries with advanced technology are conducting research on it.

In the future, research on metallic gallium will continue, but the problem of its low content cannot be solved, even if it can live forever, this is not enough for the average person in the world.

But scientists are optimistic: for humans, the discovery of metallic gallium is already significant progress.