Arsenic | Properties | Uses | and Facts - Elements and Compounds


Sunday, April 16, 2023

Arsenic | Properties | Uses | and Facts

Properties Uses and Facts about Arsenic

    What is Arsenic

    Arsenic is classified as a metalloid, and chemically it is an element. Metalloids are elements that show properties of both metals and non-metals. Arsenic has a density of 5.72 grams per cubic centimeter, its symbol As, atomic number 33, and atomic mass 74.9215 amu. An atom of arsenic has 33 electrons, 33 protons, 42 neutrons and 4 energy levels. In the Periodic Table, arsenic is located in group 15, period 4 and block (P). Arsenic is found in the solid state at room temperature, its melting point is 817 °C (1503 °F) at 28 atm pressure, and its boiling point is 614 °C (1137 °F).

    Arsenic is believed to have been discovered by the German chemist Albertus Magnus in 1250.
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    Arsenic Properties Uses and Facts

    Properties of Arsenic

    • Arsenic is found in three forms (Allotropes). Yellow arsenic, gray arsenic and black arsenic. Generally gray arsenic and yellow arsenic are found in large quantities.
    • Gray arsenic is a shiny and crystalline solid of silver-grey colour. It is a brittle material with a metallic appearance, which breaks easily. Gray-arsenic is the most commonly found form (Allotrope) of arsenic.
    • Yellow-arsenic is a soft and waxy substance, which is chemically very active and extremely toxic. Yellow arsenic is formed by the sudden cooling of vapors of gray-arsenic.
    • Yellow-arsenic is converted to gray-arsenic when exposed to light at room temperature.
    • Black arsenic has the same composition as black phosphorus, it is a shiny and brittle solid.
    • When arsenic is heated, it does not melt but directly turns into vapor. Arsenic is kept at a temperature of 817 degree Celsius and a pressure of 28 ATM (atmospheric pressure) to convert it into liquid state. Due to this property, the melting point of arsenic is higher than its boiling point.
    • Arsenic reacts slowly with oxygen in the air exposed to air, forming a thin layer of arsenic-oxide over it, which prevents further reaction with oxygen.
    • At high temperatures, arsenic reacts rapidly with oxygen to form arsenic trioxide, which appears as a white cloud and has a garlic-like odor.

    Uses of Arsenic

    • Arsenic is extremely toxic, so it is used in rat poison and insecticides.
    • Arsenic compounds are used to make special types of glass and to preserve wood.
    • Small amounts of arsenic are added to germanium and silicon to make transistors.
    • Gallium arsenide (GaAs) has the ability to generate laser light directly from electricity. Hence it is used in hand watches, calculators and other electronic devices to display numbers and letters by LED diodes.
    • Arsine (AsH3) gas is formed by the reaction of arsenic and hydrogen. This gas is an important dopant gas in the microchip industry, it is a toxic gas so it is used very carefully within the guidelines.
    • Lead acid batteries used in vehicles contain some amount of arsenic alloyed with lead.

    Interesting Facts about Arsenic

    • Arsenic is one of the most toxic elements.
    • About 80,000 tonnes of arsenic is added to the atmosphere every year due to burning of fossil fuels.
    • Most arsenic is obtained as a by-product when mining the metals silver, copper and lead.
    • Some foods, such as shrimp, contain surprisingly high amounts of arsenic compounds, but the arsenic compounds found in these are less harmful.
    • Arsenic is highly toxic, but it is an essential nutrient in trace amounts for some animals.
    • Arsenic is the 54th most abundant element in the Earth's crust, far more than metals such as silver and gold.

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