• Boron Family
Gallium (Ga) is an element included in the Boron Family, along with the semi-metal boron (B) and the metals aluminum (Al), indium (In), and thallium (Tl). This group of elements can be found in the 13th Group of the Periodic Table wherein each element except the element boron has three electrons in their outermost shells.
• Word Origin
The word gallium came from the Latin word Gallia which means Gaul and from the French word gallius (also from Latin) which means Lecoq, a kind of rooster. Lecoq was also the first name of the one who discovered the said element, namely the chemist Paul Emile Lecoq de Boisbaudran in 1875.
• Physical and Chemical Properties
Gallium (Ga) has an atomic number of 31 with an atomic mass of 91.723 g/mol (molar mass). It has a melting point of 29.7646 °C and a boiling point of 2204 °C (degree Celsius). Also, it has a blue-grey color on its solid state.
• A Prediction
Gallium was one of the predicted elements of Dmitri Mendeleev. He was the one who first released the first version of the Periodic Table in 1871. Mendeleev is a Russian chemist who first named the element ekaaluminum, which he predicted to have the same chemical properties as aluminum.
• Softness and Liquidity
Gallium is so soft on its solid form that it can be easily sliced by a knife. Gallium, along with mercury, cesium, and rubidium are the four metallic elements that will quickly melt near room temperature because of their low melting point, thus having it use in high-temperature quartz-tube thermometers that can be used to measure over 1200 °C.
• Sources of Gallium
Gallium can be usually in the earth’s crust with an abundance of over 16.9 ppm (parts per million). It can be extracted from several ores like in bauxite, sphalerite, diaspore, germanite, and coal. Flue dusts from burning coal can produce 1.5 percent more gallium. The major sources of gallium worldwide are the countries of China, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine.
• Gallium Scan
Gallium has its uses in the medical industry like using it as a liquid in high-temperature thermometers or as a key ingredient for the gallium scan. A gallium scan is a type of nuclear medicine examination that ought to find traces of inflammation, infection, and cancer in the human body. This test injects radioactive isotopes of gallium, Gallium-67, in the veins of the patient’s body and later scans the target part to have the results.
• Radiation Exposure
A gallium scan is indeed helpful for medicinal treatments, however, risks of having nuclear exposure which children and pregnant women should always avoid. Gallium scan has a lower risk from radiation versus X-ray and CT scan. Exposure to higher amounts of gallium can cause chest pains, irritations in the throat. Also, the scent it produces can lead to very dangerous conditions especially for our lungs.
• A Semiconductor
Gallium is a kind of semiconductor wherein almost 90 to 95 percent of gallium usage is used in the electrical industry. Gallium arsenide (GaAs) and gallium nitride (GaN) shows 98 percent of gallium usage in the United States. This element became more important since the discovery of gallium arsenide because it can directly convert light into electricity. It is also used in LEDs and transistors.
• Gallium Arsenide and Nitride
Both gallium arsenide (GaAs) and gallium nitride (GaN) play a huge role in the making of advanced technologies with high-performance radio frequency mobile devices. Smartphones, fiber optics networks, wireless local area networks, GPS (Global Positioning System), and aerospace applications have gallium in material ingredients.