Photo by: Getty Images

Getty Images

Gallium Is A Metal That Melts In Your Hands

By: Joanie Faletto

Gallium will change your perception of metal.

August 01, 2019

When you think of metal, you most likely think of strength and toughness. Well, element gallium is here to change that perception.

Melts In Your Hands, Not On Your Table

The element gallium is an unexpected metal—it's a soft, silvery-white metal that is solid at room temperature (similar to aluminum) but it can literally melt in the palm of your hand. It's bizarre and a little unsettling to see, but it makes sense. The melting point for gallium (which is represented on the Periodic Table as Ga) is relatively low, at 85.6°F (29.8°C). However, the boiling point for this element is quite high, at 4044°F (2229°C). This quality makes gallium ideal for recording temperatures that would destroy a thermometer. According to the Los Alamos National Laboratory, gallium is "one of four metals — mercury, cesium, and rubidium — which can be liquid near room temperature and, thus, can be used in high-temperature thermometers. It has one of the longest liquid ranges of any metal and has a low vapor pressure even at high temperatures."

What Else Is It Good For?

Gallium is more than just a weirdo substance to poke at in the palm of your hand. As the Los Alamos National Laboratory explains, "Gallium wets glass or porcelain and forms a brilliant mirror when it is painted on glass. It is widely used in doping semiconductors and producing solid-state devices such as transistors. Magnesium gallate containing divalent impurities, such as Mn+2, is finding use in commercial ultraviolet-activated powder phosphors. Gallium arsenide is capable of converting electricity directly into coherent light. Gallium readily alloys with most metals, and has been used as a component in low-melting alloys."

This article first appeared on Curiosity.com.

Next Up

If The Earth's Core Is So Hot, Why Doesn't It Melt?

The Earth's core same temperature as the surface of the sun.

This Is Why Your Eyes Get Puffy When You Cry

Your eyes puff up due to the process of osmosis.

What Came Before the Big Bang?

Physicists are still trying to solve this mystery.

US Navy Released UFO Video Footage to Little Fanfare Amidst Pandemic

The previously leaked videos have been declassified and confirmed to be real by the Pentagon. Science Channel's BLACK FILES DECLASSIFIED host Mike Baker talks us through these "unidentified objects" that were sighted.

Emotional Robots: Machines that Recognize Human Feelings

Bridging the gap between simple automation and robots that can empathize and interact with humans naturally is a big challenge, but major progress has been made in the past few years.

The Broomstick Challenge is Not What it Appears to Be

The Broomstick Challenge is clearly sweeping the nation, but don’t let it fool you. If you take a closer look behind the meaning of it, it’s not exactly based on real science.

Sleep vs. Exercise: Which Is More Important?

The best answer for you will depend on your lifestyle.

Check Out the Crab Nebula –The Leftovers from a Giant Cosmic Firework

The Crab Nebula sits 6,500 light-years away, and is currently about 11 light-years across. But while it looks pretty from afar, don’t give in to the temptation to visit it up close.

Whatever You Do, Don't Put Coffee Grounds in Your Garden

This popular soil additive may not be the best thing for your plants.

Disease Hotspots: Climate Change and its Impact on Epidemics

One of the marked differences climate change and a warming planet will make to life on Earth is their effect on human health.