Transition Metals are a category of chemical elements, which occupy a central block in the Periodic Table. These chemical elements are found in groups 3 to 12 in the Periodic Table and they all have metallic properties. Transition Metal is the label, which categorizes a total of 38 chemical elements. Three of them – Iron, Nickel, and Cobalt – are especially noteworthy because of their chemical and physical properties, as well as because of the fact that these 3 elements are the only ones able to produce a magnetic field. The 38 Transition Metals in the Periodic Table are as following: Scandium (Sc), Titanium (Ti), Vanadium (V), Chromium (Cr), Manganese (Mn), Iron (Fe), Cobalt (Co), Nickel (Ni), Copper (Cu), Zinc (Zn), Yttrium (Y), Zirconium (Zr), Niobium (Nb), Molybdenum (Mo), Technetium (Tc), Ruthenium (Ru), Rhodium (Rh), Palladium (Pd), Silver (Ag), Cadmium (Cd), Hafnium (Hf), Tantalum (Ta), Tungsten (W), Rhenium (Re), Osmium (Os), Iridium (Ir), Platinum (Pt), Gold (Au), Mercury (Hg), Rutherfordium (Rf), Dubnium (Db), Seaborgium (Sg), Bohrium (Bh), Hassium (Hs), Meitnerium (Mt), Darmstadtium (Ds), Roentgenium (Rg), and Copernicium (Cn).
Physical Characteristics of the Transition Metals
Transition Metals have common metallic physical properties. They are relatively hard, but can easily be cut and shaped. Transition Metals are also elastic and malleable. They are relatively good heat and electrical conductors. These elements have a shiny, metallic hue in terms of color and their density is relatively high. Transition Metals have a d subshell and high melting and boiling points. While their natural state is solid, Transition Metals from group 12 elements of the Periodic Table have a significantly lower melting point and boiling point. For example, Mercury is in a liquid state at room temperature.
Chemical Properties of the Transition Metals
Transition Metals vary in chemical properties, but they share similarities in terms of electronic charge, oxidation states and compound forming. Elements from the Transition Metal category have a large atomic radius, which is crucial to their reaction to other elements and compounds. One of the most significant chemical properties of these elements is their ability to form colorful ions and compounds.
Bonding and reaction to other elements and compounds
Transition Metals are reactive to various compounds and chemical elements. Not only do they form new compounds, but they also show a strong presence of catalytic activity. If one or more d electrons remain unpaired in the compound, it will have a paramagnetic behavior. In some cases Transition Metals can also form diamagnetic compounds. These elements are relatively reactive to Oxygen and their oxidation states are variable. Most oxidation states vary between -1 and +5, but Iridium, for example, may have an oxidation state of +9. In some compounds Transition Metals may form strong covalent bonds. The oxidation states and the d-d electronic transitions create the vibrant and colorful compounds, which are notorious for Transition Metal elements. Their reaction to water is weak to none.
Uses and applications of the Transition Metals
These Periodic Table elements have a large application as catalysts, heat and electricity conductors, alloys, and structural bases for metallurgy, electronics, science and other industries.
For example, many Transition Metals like Iron and Copper are used to form various alloys and to serve as construction structures for coins, wires, pipes, steel formations. Nickel has a large range of applications – from coin mining to the production of vegetable oils. Titanium is used in nuclear engineering, in aircraft manufacturing and even in the production of artificial hip joints. Gold is used not only for jewelry, but also for computer chip wires and electrical conductors. Iron, Cobalt and Nickel are effective in the manufacturing of magnets.
Transition Metals on Earth
These 38 Periodic Table elements are actually quite abundant on Earth and its crust. Unlike the Alkali Metals and the Alkaline Earth Metal elements, most Transition Metals occur in their natural state on our planet. Some Transition Metal elements are extremely rare, while others aren’t found in their pure forms and need to be extracted from compounds.