Beryllium is a chemical element in the Periodic Table marked with the atomic number of 4 and with the chemical symbol Be. Beryllium is a chemical element belonging to group 2 elements in the Periodic Table, as it is an Alkaline Earth Metal element. In the Periodic Table Beryllium is preceded by Lithium and it is followed by Boron.
Beryllium is a typical Alkaline Earth Metal, which shares various group trends with other chemical elements in group 2 when it comes to physical and chemical properties. It has a white-grey metallic appearance in terms of color and it’s a soft, brittle element. Beryllium forms various oxides, isotopes and alloys with other chemical elements. It occurs in various minerals and the most common precious gems consisting of Beryllium compounds are emerald, aquamarine, and chrysoberyl. Beryllium can also be found in the Sun, as well as in Earth’s crust. It is somewhat reactive and has various commercial and scientific uses and applications.
Physical Characteristics of Beryllium
In terms of physical characteristics Beryllium shares group trends with other group 2 Alkaline Earth Metals. It is soft and lightweight. It occurs in a solid natural state and has a low density like the rest of the Alkaline Earth Metal elements. This element has a steel grey, silvery shine, and is transparent to X-rays because of its low density and low atomic mass. Beryllium minerals and gem stones appear in various colors – from transparent to solid green, blue, red or gold. Beryllium has a good thermal stability and thermal conductivity, which make it ideal for various commercial and medicinal applications. This element forms amphoteric oxides and it has 12 known isotopes. However, only one of them is stable.
Chemical Properties of Beryllium
Atomic Number – 4
Group – 2
Period – 2
Block – s
Electronic Configuration – 2s1
Relative Atomic Mass – 9.012 (9.01218 g/mol)
Molecular Weight – 9.012
Electronegativity – 1.57
Density (G CM-3) – 1.85 g/cm3 at room temperature; 1.690 g/cm3 in liquid state
Melting Point – 1560 K; 1287 °C; 2349 °F
Boiling Point – 2742 K; 2469 °C; 4476 °F
Atomic Radius – 112pm
Isotopes – 12
Electronic Shell – 2, 2
Discovery of Beryllium
The mineral beryl has been known to mankind since the early centuries in the Common Era. However, the very first person to discover the element Beryllium was a French pharmacist and chemist, named Louis-Nicolas Vauquelin, who carried out a chemical analysis of emeralds and Beryls. He ruled out that the new element he found was indeed an Alkaline Earth Metal and he proposed to name it Glucine because of its sweet taste. Martin Heinrich Klaproth, an acclaimed German chemist, proposed to rename it to Beryllina. Eventually in 1828 Friedrich Wöhler (who was the first man to successfully isolate a sample of Beryllium) was the first one to use the new name “Beryllium”.
Recognized by: Louis-Nicolas Vauquelin (1798)
Known and discovered by: Louis-Nicolas Vauquelin (1798)
Named by: Friedrich Wöhler (1828)
Uses and role of Beryllium
Due to its relative reactivity, its softness and its low atomic mass and density, Beryllium has a large variety of industrial, commercial and scientific applications in metallurgy, tool manufacturing, scientific research, aircraft manufacturing, and also magnetic and nuclear applications.
Beryllium is used for various tools made out of alloys with Nickel, Copper, Aluminum, and Iron. This element plays a key role in the manufacturing of aircrafts, missiles, satellites, spacecraft elements, and so on. Beryllium is a component in nuclear reactors, thermonuclear bombs, and also in fuel for CANDU reactors. This Alkaline Earth Metal is also used in the manufacturing of various electronics and even in some dental alloys.
Beryllium on Earth
While Beryllium is considered to be a rare chemical element it occurs not only on Earth, but also on the Sun. The only natural occurrence of Beryllium on our planet’s crust can be found in various minerals and gem stones. This Alkaline Earth Metal element occurs in the crust and in sea water, and the most common Beryllium sources are found in Bertrandite and Beryl minerals, as well as in the precious gems aquamarine, emerald and red beryl.
Beryllium mirrors are a noteworthy technology discovery, which plays an important role in science, astrology, and meteorology. The James Webb Space Telescope, which has been labeled as the Next Generation Space Telescope, and is set to launch in October 2018 will be fully equipped with 18 hexagonal beryllium mirrors.