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The Elements — Descriptions, Uses and Occurrences

with quick links to find out much more
Hydrogen Helium Lithium Beryllium Boron Carbon Nitrogen Oxygen Fluorine Neon Sodium Magnesium Aluminum Silicon Phosphorus Sulfur Chlorine Argon Potassium Calcium Scandium Titanium Vanadium Chromium Manganese Iron Cobalt Nickel Copper Zinc Gallium Germanium Arsenic Selenium Bromine Krypton Rubidium Strontium Yttrium Zirconium Niobium Molybdenum Technetium Ruthenium Rhodium Palladium Silver Cadmium Indium Tin Antimony Tellurium Iodine Xenon Cesium Barium Lanthanum Cerium Praseodymium Neodymium Promethium Samarium Europium Gadolinium Terbium Dysprosium Holmium Erbium Thulium Ytterbium Lutetium Hafnium Tantalum Tungsten Rhenium Osmium Iridium Platinum Gold Mercury Thallium Lead Bismuth Polonium Astatine Radon Francium Radium Actinium Thorium Protactinium Uranium Neptunium Plutonium Americium Curium Berkelium Californium Einsteinium Fermium Mendelevium Nobelium Lawrencium Rutherfordium Dubnium Seaborgium Bohrium Hassium Meitnerium Darmstadtium Roentgenium Copernicium Nihonium Flerovium Moscovium Livermorium Tennessine Oganesson
Element Description
Physical characteristics of
the element in its pure form.
Use or Occurrence
How it is (or was) used or where it is found.
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1 H Hydrogen explosive gas, lightest element 90% of atoms in the universe, sun and stars, H2O, life's organic molecules
2 He Helium inert gas, second-lightest element fuel for nuclear fusion in sun and stars, balloons, lasers, supercold refrigerant
3 Li Lithium lightest metal, soft, reactive lightweight aluminum alloys, batteries, impact-resistant ceramic cookware (Corningware©), mood stabilizer
4 Be Beryllium lightweight metal non-sparking copper alloy tools, aerospace, X-ray windows, beryl gems: emeralds and aquamarines
5 B Boron hard black solid borax soap, fertilizer, stiff fibers, sports equipment (golf clubs, tennis rackets, skis), heat-resistant borosilicate glass (Pyrex©), semiconductors
6 C Carbon hard diamond, soft graphite basis of life's organic molecules, animals, plants, CO2, wood, paper, cloth, plastic, coal, oil
7 N Nitrogen colorless gas 78% of air, organic molecules, protein, muscles, DNA, ammonia, fertilizer, explosives (TNT), refrigerants
8 O Oxygen colorless gas 21% of air, H2O, 65% of the human body, organic molecules, blood, breathing, fire, half of Earth's crust, minerals, oxides
9 F Flourine yellowish poison gas, most reactive element glowing fluorite, toothpaste, nonstick cookware (Teflon©), CFC refrigerants (Freon©)
10 Ne Neon inert gas orange-red neon tubes for advertising signs, lasers, supercold refrigerant
11 Na Sodium
(Natrium)
soft metal, reactive salt (NaCl), nerves, baking soda, antacids, lye, soap, soda ash, glass, papermaking, street lamps
12 Mg Magnesium lightweight metal chlorophyll in green plants, talc, basalt, aluminum alloys, cars, planes, bikes, flares, sparklers, antacids
13 Al Aluminum lightweight non-corroding metal common metal, kitcheware, cans, foil, machinery, cars, planes, bikes, feldspar, granite, clay, ceramics, corundum, gems
14 Si Silicon hard metalloid quartz, granite, sand, soil, clay, ceramics, glass, algae, diatoms, semiconductors, computer chips, silicone rubber
15 P Phosphorus glowing white waxy solid (also red and black forms) bones, DNA, energy-storing phosphates (ATP), fertilizer, acids, detergents, matches
16 S Sulfur brittle yellow solid skin, hair, egg yolks, onions, garlic, skunks, hot springs, volcanos, gypsum, rubber, acids, papermaking
17 Cl Chlorine greenish poison gas salt (NaCl), bleach, stomach acid, disinfectant, drinking water, swimming pools, PVC plastic pipes and bottles
18 Ar Argon inert gas 1% of air, most abundant inert gas on Earth, light bulbs, "neon" tubes, lasers, welding gas
19 K Potassium
(Kalium)
soft metal, reactive salts, nerves, nutrient in fruits and vegetables, soap, fertilizer, potash, matches, gunpowder
20 Ca Calcium soft metal bones, teeth, milk, leaves, vegetables, shells, coral, limestone, chalk, gypsum, plaster, mortar, cement, marble, antacids
21 Sc Scandium soft lightweight metal aluminum alloys, racing bikes, stadium lamps, furnace bricks, aquamarines
22 Ti Titanium strongest lightweight metal, heat-resistant aerospace, racing bikes, artificial joints, white paint, blue sapphires
23 V Vanadium hard metal hard strong resilient steel, structures, vehicles, springs, driveshafts, tools, aerospace, violet sapphires
24 Cr Chromium hard shiny metal stainless steel (Fe-Cr-Ni), kitchenware, nichrome heaters, car trim, paints, recording tape, emeralds and rubies
25 Mn Manganese hard metal hard tough steel, earthmovers, rock crushers, rails, plows, axes, batteries, fertilizer, amethysts
26 Fe Iron
(Ferrum)
medium-hard metal, magnetic steel alloys are mostly iron, structures, vehicles, magnets, Earth's core, red rocks, blood
27 Co Cobalt hard metal, magnetic hard strong steel, cutting tools, turbines, magnets (Al-Ni-Co), blue glass and ceramics, vitamin B-12
28 Ni Nickel medium-hard metal, magnetic stainless steel (Fe-Cr-Ni), kitchenware, nichrome heaters, coins, nicad batteries, Earth's core
29 Cu Copper
(Cuprum)
colored metal, conducts heat and electricity well wires, cookware, brass (Cu-Zn), bronze (Cu-Sn), coins, pipes, blue crab blood
30 Zn Zinc non-corroding metal galvanized steel, brass (Cu-Zn), batteries, white paint, phosphors in TVs and lamps, fertilizer
31 Ga Gallium soft metal, melts on a hot day semiconductors, light-emitting diodes (LEDs) (GaAs), signal lights, tiny lasers
32 Ge Germanium brittle metalloid semiconductors, transistors, rectifiers, diodes, photocells, lenses, infrared windows
33 As Arsenic brittle metalloid poisons, semiconductors, light-emitting diodes (LEDs) (GaAs), signal lights, tiny lasers
34 Se Selenium brittle gray solid semiconductors, photocopiers, laser printers, photocells, red glass, dandruff shampoo, rubber
35 Br Bromine dark red liquid disinfectant, pools and spas, photo film, flame retardant, leaded gas, sedatives
36 Kr Krypton inert gas high-intensity lamps, headlights, flashlights, lanterns, "neon" tubes, lasers
37 Rb Rubidium soft metal, reactive atomic clocks, global navigation (GPS), vacuum tube scavenger
38 Sr Strontium soft metal red fireworks, flares, phosphors, nuclear batteries, medical diagnostic tracer, nuclear fallout
39 Y Yttrium soft metal phosphors in color TVs, lasers (YAG, YLF), furnace bricks, high-temperature superconductors
40 Zr Zirconium non-corroding neutron-resistant metal chemical pipelines, nuclear reactors, furnace bricks, abrasives, zircon gems
41 Nb Niobium high-melting-point non-corroding metal chemical pipelines, superconductors, magnetic levitation trains, MRI magnets
42 Mo Molybdenum high-melting-point metal hard steel, cutting tools, drill bits, armor plate, gun barrels, fertilizer
43 Tc Technetium radioactive, long-lived first human-made element, only traces on Earth but found in stars, medical diagnostic tracer
44 Ru Ruthenium non-corroding hard metal electric contacts, leaf switches, pen tips, catalyst, hydrogen production
45 Rh Rhodium non-corroding hard shiny metal labware, reflectors, electric contacts, thermocouples, catalyst, pollution control
46 Pd Palladium non-corroding hard metal, absorbs hydrogen labware, electric contacts, dentistry, catalyst, pollution control
47 Ag Silver
(Argentum)
soft shiny metal, conducts electricity best of all elements jewelry, silverware, coins, dentistry, photo film
48 Cd Cadmium non-corroding soft metal, toxic electroplated steel, nicad batteries, red and yellow paints, fire sprinklers
49 In Indium soft metal solders, glass seals, glass coatings, liquid crystal displays (LCD), semiconductors, diodes, photocells
50 Sn Tin
(Stanum)
non-corroding soft metal solders, plated food cans, bronze (Cu-Sn), pewter cups, glassmaking, fire sprinklers
51 Sb Antimony
(Stibium)
brittle metalloid solders, lead hardener, batteries, bullet, semiconductors, photocells, matches, flame retardant
52 Te Tellurium brittle metalloid alloys, semiconductors, photocopiers, computer disk, thermo-electric coolers and generators
53 I Iodine violet-black solid disinfectant for wounds and drinking water, added to salt to prevent thyroid disease, photo film
54 Xe Xenon inert gas high-intensity lamps, headlights, stadium lamps, projectors, strobes, lasers, spacecraft ion engines
55 Cs Cesium soft metal, melts on a hot day, reactive, largest stable atoms atomic clocks, global navigation (GPS), vacuum tube scavenger
56 Ba Barium soft metal, absorbs X-rays stomach X-ray contrast enhancer, green fireworks, whitener and filler for paper
57 La Lanthanum soft metal optical glass, telescope eyepieces, camera lenses, lighter flints, arc lamps
58 Ce Cerium soft metal most abundant rare earth metal, lighter flints, arc lamps, gas lamp mantles, self-cleaning ovens, glass polishing
59 Pr Praseodymium soft metal torchworkers' didymium eyeglasses, lighter flints, arc lamps, magnets, yellow glass
60 Nd Neodymium soft metal strong magnets (Nd-Fe-B), electric motors, speakers and headphones, lasers, lighter flints
61 Pm Promethium radioactive, long-lived human-made, small traces in nature, luminous dials, sheet thickness gauges
62 Sm Samarium soft metal magnets (Sm-Co), electric motors, speakers and headphones, infrared sensors, infrared-absorbing glass
63 Eu Europium soft metal phosphors in color TVs and trichromatic fluorescent lamps, luminous paint, lasers
64 Gd Gadolinium soft metal, best neutron absorber, magnetic magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) contrast enhancer, phosphors, neutron radiography
65 Tb Terbium soft metal phosphors in color TVs and trichromatic fluorescent lamps, computer disks, magnetostrictive "smart" materials (Fe-Dy-Tb) (Terfenol-D©)
66 Dy Dysprosium soft metal nuclear control rods, MRI phosphors, computer disks, magnetostrictive "smart" materials (Fe-Dy-Tb) (Terfenol-D©)
67 Ho Holmium soft metal infrared lasers, laser surgery, eye-safe laser rangefinders, computer disks, yellow glass filters
68 Er Erbium soft metal fiber optic signal amplifiers, infrared lasers, laser surgery, pink glass, sunglasses, vanadium alloys
69 Tm Thulium soft metal rarest stable rare earth metal, infrared lasers, laser surgery, phosphors
70 Yb Ytterbium soft metal fiber optic signal amplifiers, infrared fiber lasers, stainless steel alloys
71 Lu Lutetium soft metal, densest and hardest rare earth metal cancer-fighting photodynamic (light-activated) medicine
72 Hf Hafnium non-corroding metal, absorbs neutrons nuclear reactor control rods in submarines, plasma torch electrodes
73 Ta Tantalum high-melting-point non-corroding metal labware, surgical tools, artificial joints, capacitors, mobile phones
74 W Tungsten
(Wolfram)
highest-melting-point metal, dense filaments in lamps and TVs, cutting tools, abrasives, thermocouples
75 Re Rhenium high-melting-point dense metal rocket engines, heater coils, laboratory filaments, electric contacts, thermocouples, catalyst
76 Os Osmium non-corroding high-melting-point hard metal, densest element (same as Ir) electric contacts, pen tips, needles, fingerprint powder
77 Ir Iridium non-corroding hard metal, densest element (same as Os) labware, spark plugs, pen tips, needles
78 Pt Platinum non-corroding dense metal labware, spark plugs, catalyst, pollution control, petroleum cracking, processing fats
79 Au Gold
(Aurum)
most malleable element, dense non-tarnishing colored metal jewelry, coins, ultra-thin gold leaf, electric contacts
80 Hg Mercury
(Hydrargium)
liquid metal, toxic thermometers, barometers, thermostats, street lamps, fluorescent lamps, dentistry
81 Tl Thallium soft metal, toxic low-melting-point mercury alloys, low-temperature thermometers, undersea lamps, photocells
82 Pb Lead
(Plumbum)
dense, soft, non-corroding metal, toxic weights, solders, batteries, bullets, crystal glass, old plumbing, radiation shield
83 Bi Bismuth low melting point, brittle metal solders, fuses, fire sprinklers (plugs melt when hot), cosmetics pigment
84 Po Polonium radioactive, long-lived first radioactive element found, small traces in nature, anti-static brushes, tobacco
85 At Astatine radioactive, short-lived small traces in nature, cancer medicine
86 Rn Radon radioactive gas, short-lived environmental hazard, surgical implants for cancer treatment
87 Fr Francium radioactive, short-lived, atoms larger than cesium small traces in nature, studied in laser atom traps
88 Ra Radium radioactive, long-lived luminous watches (now banned), medical radon production, radiography, radwaste
89 Ac Actinium radioactive, long-lived small traces in nature, cancer medicine, neutron source, radwaste
90 Th Thorium radioactive, long-lived most abundant radioactive element, nuclear reactor fuel, gas lamp mantles, tungsten filaments, radwaste
91 Pa Protactinium radioactive, long-lived small traces in nature, no uses, radwaste
92 U Uranium radioactive, long-lived, dense nuclear reactor fuel, nuclear weapons, counterweights, armor-piercing bullets
93 Np Neptunium radioactive, long-lived small traces in nature, neutron detectors, dosimeters, possibly nuclear weapons, radwaste
94 Pu Plutonium radioactive, long-lived small traces in nature, nuclear reactor fuel, spacecraft power, nuclear weapons
95 Am Americium radioactive, long-lived never found in nature, smoke detectors, sheet thickness gauges, radwaste
96 Cm Curium radioactive, long-lived never found in nature, scientific instruments, mineral analyzers, radwaste
97 Bk Berkelium radioactive, long-lived never found in nature, no uses, radwaste
98 Cf Californium radioactive, long-lived never found in nature, scientific instruments, mineral analyzers, radwaste
99 Es Einsteinium radioactive, short-lived never found in nature, no uses
100 Fm Fermium radioactive, short-lived never found in nature, no uses
101 Md Mendelevium radioactive, short-lived never found in nature, no uses
102 No Nobelium radioactive, short-lived never found in nature, no uses
103 Lr Lawrencium radioactive, short-lived never found in nature, no uses
104 Rf Rutherfordium radioactive, short-lived never found in nature, no uses
105 Db Dubnium radioactive, short-lived never found in nature, no uses
106 Sg Seaborgium radioactive, short-lived never found in nature, no uses
107 Bh Bohrium radioactive, short-lived never found in nature, no uses
108 Hs Hassium radioactive, short-lived never found in nature, no uses
109 Mt Meitnerium radioactive, short-lived never found in nature, no uses
110 Ds Darmstadtium radioactive, short-lived never found in nature, no uses
111 Rg Roentgenium radioactive, short-lived never found in nature, no uses
112 Cn Copernicium radioactive, short-lived never found in nature, no uses
113 Nh Nihonium radioactive, short-lived never found in nature, no uses
114 Fl Flerovium radioactive, short-lived never found in nature, no uses
115 Mc Moscovium radioactive, short-lived never found in nature, no uses
116 Lv Livermorium radioactive, short-lived never found in nature, no uses
117 Ts Tennessine radioactive, short-lived never found in nature, no uses
118 Og Oganesson radioactive, short-lived never found in nature, no uses
(heaviest element yet made when this was written)

Note: On this chart, a radioactive element is called long-lived if the half-life of any of its isotopes is more than one year; otherwise it is called short-lived. Some super-heavy elements marked short-lived may in future be found to have long-lived isotopes (see island of stability).