Molybdenum is a chemical element in the Periodic Table marked with the atomic number of 42 and with the chemical symbol Mo. This chemical element belongs to period 5 elements and the Transition Metals category. Similar to the rest of the Transition Metal elements Molybdenum possesses various metallic properties. In the Periodic Table Molybdenum is preceded by Niobium and is followed by Technetium.


This chemical element does not exist freely in nature. It can be found only in the form of oxides in a mixture with other elements in various minerals. It is present in the Earth’s biosphere, in the Earth’s crust, in oceans, and on the Moon. Molybdenum is a common element, being the 54th most abundant chemical element in our planet’s crust, and the 42nd most abundant one in the entire Universe. It is highly valued for its property of forming stable and hard carbides, which is why it is mostly used for various alloys, including steel alloys and super-alloys. Other uses of Molybdenum include catalysts and pigments manufacturing, fertilizers and scientific research.


Physical Characteristics of Molybdenum

In terms of physical characteristics Molybdenum is a solid, hard Transition Metal with a silvery-gray metallic luster. Most of its compounds are insoluble in water. This chemical element crystalizes in a typical body-centered cubic structure and has a paramagnetic magnetic ordering. Molybdenum has the sixth highest of all melting points of all chemical elements in the Periodic Table. Its melting and boiling points are at 2896 K and 4912 K in their respective order.


Chemical Properties of Molybdenum


Atomic Number – 42

Group – 6

Period – 5

Block – d

Electronic Configuration – 4d5 5s1

Relative Atomic Mass – 95.95 (95.95 g/mol)

Molecular Weight – 95.95

Electronegativity – 2.16

Density (G CM-3) – 10.28 g/cm3 at room temperature; 9.33 g/cm3 in liquid state

Melting Point – 2896 K; 2623 °C; 4753 °F

Boiling Point – 4912 K; 4639 °C; 8382 °F

Atomic Radius – 139 pm

Isotopes – 33

Electronic Shell – 2, 8, 18, 13, 1


Discovery of Molybdenum

Molybdenum has been known to mankind for centuries. It was reportedly used back in the 14th century for the manufacturing of Japanese steel swords, but its sole discovery wasn’t carried out up until the late 1770s. In 1778 a Swedish Pomeranian chemist, named Carl Wilhelm Scheele, discovered the element in a sample of Molybdena ore and proposed to name the new element Molybdenum after the ore. The name is derived from Ancient Greek and it actually means “lead”, as Molybdenum ores were initially mistaken for lead ores.


The very first actual isolation of Molybdenum was carried out in 1781 by a Swedish chemist, named Peter Jacob Hjelm, via linseed oil and Carbon.


Recognized by: Carl Wilhelm Scheele (1778)

Known and discovered by: Carl Wilhelm Scheele (1778)

Named by: Carl Wilhelm Scheele (1778)


Uses and role of Molybdenum

Molybdenum, although being a common and abundant chemical element, doesn’t have many commercial uses. It plays an essential biological role for various higher eukaryote organisms, but not for all of them. The most common use of Molybdenum is for the manufacturing of alloys and super-alloys, mainly for steel for irons, tools, aircrafts, motors, armor, piping, and so on.


Other uses of Molybdenum include serving as a fertilizer for several types of plants, including cauliflower, as well as for catalysts and pigments. It is also used in scientific research as part of X-ray systems, analyzers in power plants, medical imaging, and infrared light detectors.


Molybdenum on Earth

Molybdenum is a sufficiently abundant chemical element on Earth. It is regarded as being the 54th most abundant of all chemical elements in the Earth’s crust, and it is also the 25th most abundant of all elements in the ocean. Molybdenum does not exist freely in nature. It can be found in various oxides in a mixture with other elements in ores and minerals like Molybdenite, powellite, and wulfenite. The largest Molybdenum producer is China.



It has been discovered that in some cases Molybdenum can be used as a substitute to Tungsten, including in low voltage equipment for mammography. A recent discovery shows that deficiency of Molybdenum in infants can cause the so-called Molybdenum Cofactor Deficiency disease, which causes severely high levels of urate and sulfite, and as a result can cause neurological damage.