We explain what the metalloids are and what their shapes and color are like. Also, what are its characteristics, properties and uses.
What are metalloids?
Metalloids or semimetals are a class of chemical elements that show intermediate behavior between metals and non-metals , in terms of ionization energies and binding properties.
It is not easy to distinguish them from true metals . They conduct electrical current better than non-metals, but they are not good conductors like metals. In addition, they are usually very varied in their shape and coloration .
The list of metalloids includes the following elements:
- Boron (B)
- Silicon (Yes)
- Germanium (Ge)
- Arsenic (As)
- Antimony (Sb)
- Tellurium (Te)
- Polonium (Po)
Characteristics of metalloids
- Location in the Periodic Table . The metalloids are found, within the Periodic Table, on a descending diagonal from boron to polonium, scattered between columns 13, 14, 15 and 16, and dividing the table in two. Elements in the middle to the right are nonmetals , and those to the left are metallic.
- Shape and coloration . The metalloids are very varied in terms of their shape and color. They can be bright or opaque, and many of them have more than one allotropic state, that is, different presentations according to their molecular structure. Arsenic, for example, can be gray, yellow, or black, depending on its allotropic form. Silicon, similarly, can appear as a shiny solid crystal or as a brownish amorphous powder.
- Electric driving . Most metalloids are semiconductors (they can behave as conductors or insulators, and they transmit electricity better in one direction than the other) rather than complete conductors, and in this they differ from metallic elements. However, they are much better conductors than non-metals (insulators), which is why they are often used in the electronics manufacturing industry.
- thermal conduction . Metalloids conduct heat energy much better than non-metallic elements, without reaching the high conductivity of metals. In general, they are not considered good conductors of heat.
- Reactivity . Given their intermediate condition, metalloids react differently depending on whether they are in the presence of a metallic element (so they react as a nonmetal) or a nonmetallic element (so they react as a metal). They have an affinity for various elements, depending on each one, and that is why they are usually found in minerals together with them, such as uranium, lead , sulfur , etc.
- Toxicity . Although some metalloids are essential for the formation of vital molecules (for example arsenic, which is found in the body of living beings ), it is possible that they represent a danger to health. Boron poisoning or arsenic itself (highly toxic) can be lethal; and for its part, polonium is a toxic and highly radioactive element, that is, it emits alpha particles that are harmful to health, being potentially carcinogenic, immunosuppressive and mutagenic.
States of aggregation of metalloids
Most metalloids usually appear solid at room temperature , either as crystals (such as arsenic) or as brittle, opaque blocks (such as germanium).
However, some have curious properties in terms of phase change. For example, arsenic goes directly from a solid to a gas (sublimation) in the presence of heat (and at normal atmospheric pressures).
Atomic Properties of Metalloids
The metalloids are very diverse in their atomic characterization. There are some with a high atomic weight, such as polonium (209 u) or antimony (121.76 u), and others that are rather light, such as boron (10.81 u) and silicon (28.08 u).
The same happens with their densities, which range from 2.37 g/cm 3 (boron) to 9.32 g/cm 3 (polonium) and with their electronic configuration, which can have a different number of electrons in the last layer. : 3 (boron), 4 (silicon, germanium), 5 (arsenic, antimony), and 6 (tellurium, polonium).
Abundance of metalloids
Some metalloids are extremely abundant in the earth’s crust , such as silicon, which forms numerous compounds called silicates, or arsenic.
Boron, for its part, exists abundantly, but as part of the mineral called borax, since it does not exist in a free and pure state in nature.
Polonium, on the other hand, is quite rare and appears only as part of certain uranium ores; and antimony is found in very small percentages in the earth’s crust.
Uses of metalloids
Most of the semi-metals are used for the manufacture of electronic devices and semiconductor elements, such as rectifiers, transistors, diodes, integrated circuits or even (as in the case of silicon), chips and microprocessors . However, their variety qualifies them for many different uses.
For example, some isotopes of boron are useful in the absorption of neutrons within nuclear power plants, and function as mechanisms for regulating atomic reactions.
Check Out Our Guides To Other Popular Topics
- The metaphor is a literary figure that exposes a relationship of similarity between two terms so that their concepts can be interchanged. Know the basic examples of metaphor.
- Beyond the cruel interactions of hunting and chasing, the relationship between predators and prey is what allows communities to be in balance. Learn about the importance of predators and prey, their characteristics and examples.
- Did you know that you can use Google Authenticator on your Windows PC through other means? Let’s explore the ways you can use Google Authenticator on PC.
- Be Familiar with top 10 characteristics of digital media and journalism, its history and its impact on society. Also learn about its history, features and examples.
- The formal and factual sciences analyze real objects in ideal environments, and ideal objects in formal settings (such as emotions in the human mind). Learn about its definition, features and characteristics with examples.
- Philosophy is a very old discipline, from which almost all knowledge comes directly or indirectly, from the humanistic to the most objective, from mathematics to literary criticism. Learn about Top 10 Characteristics of a Philosophy, History, Definition, Features and Examples.
- The letters can be formal or informal according to their function and the relationship that exists between the sender and the receiver. Know about the top 10 characteristics of formal and informal letter, its differences, elements, and features.
- There are different types of journalistic texts, among which notes, interviews, opinion columns, chronicles , reviews and reports stand out , and deal with various topics in areas such as politics, economy, society, culture, tourism, among others. Learn more about them.
- Jesus (also known as Jesus of Nazareth or Jesus Christ) is one of the most influential figures in Western culture and a central axis of Christianity. Learn about Top 10 Characteristics of Jesus, his miracles, preaching, love and more.
- Computer viruses are programs or software intended to execute actions on our computers without our authorization. Know about Top 10 Characteristics of Computer Virus, types, elements, and features.
- We explain and summarize the history of television and how it evolved. Also, what are its characteristics and its golden age.
- Be aware of what basic needs are and how they are classified. Also, what are its characteristics and Maslow’s Pyramid.
- Know in detail what Buddhism is and how this religion originated. Also, what are its characteristics, philosophical principles and symbols.
- Know everything about England, how is its climate and the flora and fauna of this country.
- Know in detail what is Google Docs and what this service is for. Also, how to create a document in Google Docs and differences with Google Drive.
- A detailed overview on the federal government, its advantages and disadvantages. Also, its general characteristics and features.
- See in detail What is Hurricane Patricia, how long it lasted and the areas affected. Its general characteristics and types.
- Be familiar with Jewish culture, know how it was originated and what its characteristics are. Also, their customs, prohibitions and more.
The above content published at Collaborative Research Group is for informational and educational purposes only and has been developed by referring to reliable sources and recommendations from technology experts. We do not have any contact with official entities nor do we intend to replace the information that they emit.