Chem Explorers

The Rare and Fascinating Element: Tellurium’s Properties and Applications

The Rare Element Tellurium: Properties, Characteristics, and Uses

Have you ever heard of the element tellurium? It may not be as well-known as other elements, but it is a fascinating metalloid that has some unique properties and uses.

Lets take a closer look at this element, from its chemical properties to its electronic shell and isotopes, and explore its various applications.

Chemical Properties of Tellurium

Tellurium is one of the rare elements on the periodic table. It is classified as a metalloid, which means it has properties of both metals and non-metals.

This element is white-silvery in appearance and highly toxic. When burned in air, it produces a blue flame and releases a pungent odor.

Tellurium is not found in its pure form in nature, but rather in combination with other minerals such as gold and copper. Symbol, Group, Period, and Block

Telluriums symbol is Te, and it belongs to the 16th group, 5th period, and p-block element.

Its atomic number is 52, and it weighs around 127.60 grams per mole. In terms of electronegativity, it rates at 2.1, which is a moderate value.

Melting Point, Boiling Point, and Radius

The melting point of tellurium is at 449.51C, while its boiling point is at 988C. Its Vanderwaals radius is at 210 pm, and it has both ionic and covalent radius properties.

Isotopes and Electronic Shell

Tellurium has several isotopes, both stable and unstable. Its electronic shell follows the sequence 2, 8, 18, 18, and 6.

Ionization Energy, Oxidation States, and Electron Configuration

The ionization energy of tellurium is characterized by its ability to lose its outer shell with ease. It has four oxidation states, namely: -2, +2, +4, and +6.

Its electron configuration is [Kr] 4d 10 5s 2 5p 4.

CAS Number and ChemSpider ID

The CAS number of tellurium is 13494-80-9, while its ChemSpider ID is 4885717.

Applications and Uses of Tellurium

Now that we have learned about the various properties of tellurium, lets explore its uses and applications. Due to its rare characteristics, tellurium has several unique functions.

1. Solar Energy: Tellurium is heavily used in the production of solar energy.

It is utilized in building solar cell panels due to its ability to convert sunlight into electricity. It is also used in the production of cadmium telluride, which is essential in enhancing the efficiency of solar cells.

2. Thermal Conductivity: Tellurium possesses high thermal conductivity.

This property makes it a valuable component in the manufacturing of thermoelectric materials. It can convert thermal energy into electrical energy without any external influence.

3. Glass Manufacturing: Purity is essential in glass manufacturing, and tellurium provides a solution to this specific problem.

Tellurium is added to glass to increase its refractive index while reducing the amount of chromatic dispersion, leading to high-quality glass. 4.

Electronics: Tellurium is used in the manufacturing of electronic devices, including transistors, photovoltaic cells, and thermistors. Its compound, tellurium oxide, acts as a crucial material in rewritable CDs and DVDs.


Medicine: Tellurium compounds such as dimercaptosuccinic acid and potassium tellurite have been known to have antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties.


Tellurium has several unique and valuable properties, making it a highly sought-after element. Its applications range from solar energy to glass manufacturing, all of which demand high purity and exceptional quality.

As industries continue to search for ways to innovate and enhance their products, tellurium will continue to play a vital role in their success.

Allotropic Forms and Chemical Classification of Tellurium

Tellurium has two allotropic forms in nature: crystalline tellurium and amorphous tellurium. Crystalline tellurium is the more stable form.

It has a silvery-white metallic appearance and exhibits a layered structure while being brittle and nonconductive. Amorphous tellurium, on the other hand, has a brownish-black appearance and is produced by rapidly cooling molten tellurium or by precipitating it from a solution.

It lacks a long-range ordered arrangement and does not exhibit the same level of brittleness as crystalline tellurium. Tellurium belongs to the metalloid group and, by definition, has properties of both metals and nonmetals.

These metalloids are located between metals and nonmetals in the periodic table, and they possess characteristics that are intermediate between those of the two major groups. In the case of tellurium, it has some properties similar to metals, such as being relatively dense and having a high melting point, but it also has some nonmetallic tendencies-like being a semiconductor and exhibiting some covalent bonding.

State at Room Temperature

Tellurium is found in solid form at room temperature. As a mostly brittle metalloid, its malleability or ductility tends to be limited to the presence of other substances.

Overall, the solid state of tellurium is one of its defining features.

Magnetic Nature

Tellurium is paramagnetic. This means that it has unpaired electrons in its atomic or molecular orbitals, which are attracted to an external magnetic field.

In the absence of an external magnetic field, paramagnetic materials retain no magnetic field and do not act as a magnet. Paramagnetic properties are relatively weak, and the magnetic effects do not usually persist after exposure to the magnetic field is eliminated.

Applications and Uses of Tellurium

Apart from the various fields where Tellurium is used, there are some efficient ways to use Tellurium. One of those is utilizing Nano-scale tellurium materials.

Studies have suggested that Tellurium nanostructures exhibit fascinating optical and electrical phenomena that can be exploited in novel applications. 1.

Solar Energy – Solar panel manufacturers use tellurium to make cadmium telluride, which is used to enhance the efficiency of solar panels. 2.

Electronic Devices – Tellurium is widely used in the electronics industry to manufacture a range of devices, including transistors, infrared detectors, and solar cells. Tellurium is well-suited for use in these applications due to its ability to convert light into electrical energy, which is necessary in photovoltaic cells and other solar-powered devices.

3. Glass Additive – Tellurium oxide is combined with glass to enhance its refractive index and reduce chromatic dispersion, resulting in clearer, high-quality glass.

4. Medicine – Potassium tellurite and dimercaptosuccinic acid are Tellurium compounds with antifungal and antibacterial properties, respectively.

5. Catalyst – Tellurium is employed as an additive in petroleum refining catalysts because it enhances the effectiveness of other compounds used in the refining process.

6. Metallurgy – Tellurium is utilized to process copper and other nonferrous metals since it improves machinability and decreases brittleness in the resulting alloys.

It also enhances the properties of lead, helping to make batteries more efficient. 7.

Thermoelectric Materials – Tellurium holds considerable promise as a thermoelectric material, as it possesses high thermal conductivity and electrical conductivity and can transform heat into electrical power, a crucial property for the efficient production of thermoelectric modules.


Tellurium is a rare and valuable element with a range of applications across multiple sectors. Its unique properties make it highly sought after in the production of electronic devices, solar panels, and other applications.

The element is not without its challenges, but with ongoing research and technological advancements, these problems can be overcome. Tellurium is poised to play a significant role in the future of industry and technology.

The Most Stable Isotope of Tellurium and its Characteristics

Tellurium has thirty-eight isotopes, with atomic masses ranging from 110 to 147. Of these, only eight are stable naturally occurring isotopes.

The most stable isotope is tellurium-130, which has a half-life of 2.21 x 10^24 years, making it one of the longest-lived isotopes in existence.

Due to its extremely long half-life, tellurium-130 undergoes double beta decay, a rare nuclear process in which two neutrons within the nucleus are transformed into two protons, emitting two electrons and two anti-neutrinos in the process.

The decay of tellurium-130 into two atoms of stable xenon makes it the most promising candidate for dark matter detection experiments. Other notable isotopes of tellurium include tellurium-128, with a half-life of 2.2 x 10^21 years, tellurium-126, with a half-life of 2.0 x 10^19 years, tellurium-128, with a half-life of 2.2 x 10^21 years, and tellurium-123, with a half-life of 119.6 days.

These isotopes have significant half-lives and are utilized in a variety of scientific applications. Of the eight stable isotopes, tellurium-120 is the rarest, constituting only 0.1% of natural tellurium samples.

Applications and Uses of the Stable Isotopes of Tellurium

Stable isotopes of tellurium have numerous applications, including in geochemistry and ecology. The unique characteristics of these isotopes facilitate their use in research applications.

For instance, tellurium-128 is utilized in the study of mineral and rock formation, while tellurium-130 is utilized in the determination of isotopic mass balance in the geological studies of rocks and minerals. Tellurium isotopes are also utilized for tracer studies, particularly in studies of environmental pollution.

For example, tellurium-123 is used to trace mercury pollution in aquatic environments, while tellurium-127 is used to measure the extent of environmental pollution caused by different industrial processes.

Crystalline and Amorphous Tellurium

Crystalline and amorphous tellurium are the two most common states of tellurium that are found in the natural environment. Crystalline tellurium possesses a brittle, silvery-white metallic shine and it has a layered structure.

It is utilized in the production of electronic devices such as infrared detectors and solar cells. In contrast, amorphous tellurium possesses a brownish-black appearance and lacks an ordered structure.

It is typically produced by rapidly cooling molten tellurium or by precipitating it from a solution. Amorphous tellurium is utilized in the production of rewritable DVDs and CDs.

Paramagnetic Properties

Tellurium is paramagnetic, which means that it has unpaired electrons that are attracted to an external magnetic field. However, tellurium’s paramagnetic properties are relatively weak.

As it does not attract magnetic fields within its atomic structure, it must have exposed unpaired electrons exposed in order to display any magnetic behavior.


Tellurium is a unique and valuable element with a wide range of applications across numerous industries. Its stable isotopes have significant scientific and analytical uses, while crystalline and amorphous tellurium have significant electronic device and optical applications.

The metalloid element possesses paramagnetic properties that are utilized in various research studies. Tellurium’s rarity has limited its use to specialized scientific and industrial applications, but its distinct properties ensure that it remains in demand.

In conclusion, tellurium is a fascinating element with unique properties and a range of applications. Its chemical properties, including its metalloid classification and solid state at room temperature, make it a versatile element.

The most stable isotope, tellurium-130, with its unprecedented half-life, holds potential for important scientific research. Furthermore, the existence of crystalline and amorphous forms of tellurium adds to its usefulness in various industries.

Lastly, tellurium’s paramagnetic nature further expands its applications. Overall, tellurium remains a valuable and sought-after element with a wide range of uses in fields such as solar energy, electronics, and medicine.

FAQ: 1) What are the stable isotopes of tellurium? The stable isotopes of tellurium are tellurium-120, tellurium-122, tellurium-123, tellurium-124, tellurium-125, tellurium-126, tellurium-128, and tellurium-130.

2) What is the most stable isotope of tellurium? The most stable isotope of tellurium is tellurium-130, which has an incredibly long half-life of 2.21 x 10^24 years.

3) What are some applications of tellurium? Tellurium is used in solar energy, electronic devices, glass manufacturing, medicine, and petroleum refining, among other applications.

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