Tantalum is a transition metal element with the chemical symbol Ta. It was named after Tantalus, a Greek mythological figure who was a son of Zeus and Pluto. It is a refractory metal that is blue-gray in color, rare in existence, and has high resistance to corrosion.
In 1802, Swedish chemist Anders Gustaf Ekeberg discovered tantalum in his home country. Today, the largest mining site for tantalum is located in Australia.
There are two crystalline phases of tantalum. The first one is known as the alpha phase, where the element takes on a cubic structure that is body-centered, soft, and relatively ductile. The second one is called the beta phase, where its crystal symmetry becomes tetragonal, brittle, and hard.
Because of its chemical inertness, tantalum is frequently used as an alternative to platinum. It is utilized in many different electronic gadgets such as computers, DVD players, video game consoles, and mobile phones. It is also valuable in making laboratory tools and equipment.
When alloyed with other metals, the resulting products are that with great strength, good ductility, and high melting points. These traits make tantalum alloys suitable for carbide tools used for metalworking, and in the manufacture of superalloys for nuclear reactors, missile parts, chemical process components, and jet engine parts.
Due to tantalum’s ductility and corrosion resistance, it is frequently utilized to evaporate metals like aluminum by drawing it into filaments or fine wires. Its non-reaction to different kinds of fluids makes it popular in the production of surgical implants and instruments.
In the vacuum furnace industry, tantalum is used a lot because of its oxidation resistance, inertness, and high melting point. It can also enhance the armor penetration abilities of materials because of the aforementioned properties. For these reasons, it is formed into tantalum fasteners, valve bodies, thermowells, and other parts.