What is Antimony
Antimony (pronunciation: AN-te-MOH-nee) is a lustrous metallic element that belongs to the family of metalloids and is represented by the chemical symbol Sb [1, 2, 3]. There are two stable isotopes of antimony, including 121Sb and 123Sb with a natural abundance of 57.21% and 42.79% respectively . It also has 35 artificially-produced radioactive isotopes, out of which the longest-lived are 125Sb, 124Sb, and 126Sb with half-lives of 2.75856 years, 60.2 days, and 12.35 days respectively .
Where is Antimony Found
Antimony occurs naturally in trace amounts in more than 100 types of mineral ores, mainly from antimony (III) sulfide (stibnite) [1, 5]. It is commercially obtained by roasting antimony trisulfide to form antimony oxide and then reducing it with carbon . Antimony is also found in its native form . China, Bolivia, and Tajikistan are the top 3 producers while China, Russia, and Bolivia have the largest antimony reserves in the world .
Origin of its Name: The name is derived from ‘anti-monos’, a Greek word that means “opposed to solitude” or “against solitude” [1, 6].
Who discovered it: Since a 5000-year-old vase made of pure antimony is shown in the Louvre museum, the element was probably found by the ancient people thousands of years ago .
When and How was it Discovered
The early use of antimony sulfide (Sb2S3) has been recorded in an Egyptian papyrus dating back to 1600 BC . Its mineral ore, stibnite, was commonly used in its black form as mascara by the ancient people notably by the temptress Jezebel .
Lead antimonate, a yellowish pigment was used by the Chaldean craftsmen during 600-500 BC . It was used in the thin coating of ornamental bricks found at Babylon made during the reign of Nebuchadnezzar from 604 to 561 BC .
In the Medieval times, it was widely used for hardening lead while some were taken as a laxative .
|Atomic number||51 |
|CAS number||7440-36-0 |
|Position in the periodic table||Group||Period||Block|
|15 ||5 ||p |
Properties and Characteristics of Antimony
|Relative atomic mass||121.760 |
|Atomic mass||121.760 amu |
|Molar mass||121.7600 g/mol |
|Molecular weight||121.76 g/mol |
|Allotropes||White Sb, Black Sb, Yellow Sb |
|Color||Silvery-white [2, 8]|
|Melting point/freezing point||630.628 °C, 1167.13 °F |
|Boiling point||1587 °C, 2889 °F |
|Density||6.68 g cm-3 |
|State of matter at room temperature (solid/liquid/gas)||Solid [1, 8]|
|– Brinell||294 MPa |
|– Mohs||3 |
|– Vickers||Unknown |
|Electrical Conductivity||2.5 X 106 S/m |
|Charge||-3, +5 |
|Thermal (heat) conductivity||24 W/(m K) |
|Specific heat||207 J kg-1 K-1 |
|Bulk modulus||42 GPa |
|Shear modulus||Unknown |
|Young’s modulus||Unknown |
|– Temperature (K)||400||600||800||1000||1200||1400||1600||1800||2000||2200||2400|
|– Pressure (Pa)||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–|
|Oxidation states||5, 3, -3 |
|Isotopes||Isotope||Mass||Abundance (%)||Half-life||Mode of decay|
Atomic Data of Antimony (Element 51)
|Valence electrons||5 |
|– n||5 |
|– ℓ||1 |
|– mℓ||1 |
|– ms||+1/2 |
|Electron configuration (noble gas configuration)||[Kr] 4d105s25p3 |
|– Number of electrons||51 |
|– Number of neutrons||70 |
|– Number of protons||51 |
|Radius of Atom|
|– Atomic radius||2.06 Å |
|– Covalent radius||1.40 Å |
|Electronegativity (Pauling-scale)||2.05 |
|Electron affinity||100.924 |
|Ionization energy (kJ mol-1)||1st||2nd||3rd||4th||5th||6th||7th||8th|
What is it Used for
- It is used for producing some semiconductor devices, including diodes and infrared detectors .
- It is mixed with lead and other metals to form alloys that increase the metals’ strength, hardness, and durability [1, 3]. While antimony-lead alloy is commonly used in car batteries, antimony alloys are also used in cable sheathing, casting bullets, and making type characters in printing presses .
- Compounds of antimony are used for manufacturing flame-resistant materials, paints, enamels, pottery and glass .
- An alloy of antimony, lead, tin, and copper, called Babbit metal, is used in making machinery bearings for its hardness and slipperiness .
It occurs either during the treatment of parasitic diseases, including schistosomiasis and leishmaniasis or because of occupational exposure . Also, antimony trioxide is considered to be carcinogenic to humans . Exposure to antimony compounds like antimony trisulfide, antimony tribromide, antimony pentasulfide, etc. may cause respiratory, gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, reproductive, and dermal effects .
- The stibnite crystals, resembling a group of swords and made from sulfur and antimony, were auctioned on 2nd June 2013 with an opening bidding price of $32,500 . The mineral, measuring 9 X 10 X 4 inches, was obtained from the Lushi Mine, China .
- Antimony is graphically represented by the Eye of Horus, a symbol of royal power, good health, and protection from ancient Egypt . It also indicates the use of antimony sulfide as eye makeup .
- It is stable in air and water, being slightly oxidized by air and insoluble in water .
- In the pure form, it is neither ductile nor malleable like true metals .
Price of Antimony
The cost of pure antimony is about $0.045 per gram, and in bulk, it costs about $0.0044 per gram . In July 2018, the average price of antimony per metric ton is $8,294 .