Antimony

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Antimony is a metalloid chemical element. The stable form of antimony is a blue-white metalloid. Yellow and black antimony are unstable non-metals. Antimony is used in flame-proofing, paints, ceramics, enamels, a wide variety of alloys, electronics, and rubber.

Properties

Antimony in its elemental form is a silvery white, brittle, fusible, crystalline solid that exhibits poor electrical and heat conductivity properties and vaporizes at low temperatures. A metalloid, antimony resembles a metal in its appearance and in many of its physical properties, but does not chemically react as a metal. It is also attacked by oxidizing acids and halogens. Antimony and some of its alloys are unusual in that they expand on cooling. Antimony is geochemically categorized as a chalcophile, occurring with sulfur and the heavy metals lead, copper, and silver.

Applications

Antimony has been used in the semiconductor industry in the production of diodes and infrared detectors. As an alloy, this metalloid greatly increases lead's hardness and mechanical strength. The most important use of antimony is as a hardener in lead for storage batteries. Other uses include:

  • antifriction alloys
  • type metal
  • small arms and tracer ammunition
  • cable sheathing
  • matches
  • plumbing
  • soldering - some "lead-free" solders contain 5% Sb
  • main and big-end bearings in internal combustion engines (as alloy)
  • used in linotype printing machines

Antimony compounds in the form of oxides, sulfides, sodium antimonate, and antimony trichloride are used in the making of flame-proofing compounds, ceramic enamels, glass, paints, and pottery. Antimony trioxide is the most important of the antimony compounds and is primarily used in flame-retardant formulations.