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With brilliant colors and picturesque shapes, many crystals are wonders of nature. Some crystals are also wonders of science, with transformative applications in electronics and optics. Understanding how best to grow such ...

Scientists create armour for fragile quantum technology

An international team of scientists has invented the equivalent of body armour for extremely fragile quantum systems, which will make them robust enough to be used as the basis for a new generation of low-energy electronics.

Teamwork in a molecule

Chemists at the Friedrich Schiller University Jena have demonstrated the value of 'teamwork' by successfully harnessing the interaction between two gallium atoms in a novel compound to split the particularly strong bond between ...

Optoelectronic devices that emit warm and cool white light

The advantages of light-emitting diodes (LEDs), such as their tiny size, low cost and excellent power efficiency, mean they are found everywhere in modern life. A KAUST team has recently developed a way of producing a white-light ...

Novel quantum dots facilitate coupling to quantum memory systems

Researchers at the University of Basel and Ruhr-Universität Bochum have realized quantum dots—tiny semiconductor nanostructures—that emit light close to the red part of the spectrum with ultra-low background noise. Quantum ...

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Gallium

Gallium ( /ˈɡæliəm/ gal-ee-əm) is a chemical element that has the symbol Ga and atomic number 31. Elemental gallium does not occur in nature, but as the gallium(III) salt in trace amounts in bauxite and zinc ores. A soft silvery metallic poor metal, elemental gallium is a brittle solid at low temperatures. As it liquefies slightly above room temperature, it will melt in the hand. Its melting point is used as a temperature reference point, and from its discovery in 1875 to the semiconductor era, its primary uses were in high-temperature thermometric applications and in preparation of metal alloys with unusual properties of stability, or ease of melting; some being liquid at room temperature or below. The alloy Galinstan (68.5% Ga, 21.5% In, 10% Sn) has a melting point of about −19 °C (−2 °F).

In semiconductors, the major-use compound is gallium arsenide used in microwave circuitry and infrared applications. Gallium nitride and indium gallium nitride, minority semiconductor uses, produce blue and violet light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and diode lasers. Semiconductor use is now almost the entire (> 95%) world market for gallium, but new uses in alloys and fuel cells continue to be discovered.

Gallium is not known to be essential in biology, but because of the biological handling of gallium's primary ionic salt gallium(III) as though it were iron(III), the gallium ion localizes to and interacts with many processes in the body in which iron(III) is manipulated. As these processes include inflammation, which is a marker for many disease states, several gallium salts are used, or are in development, as both pharmaceuticals and radiopharmaceuticals in medicine.

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