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Mercury (element)

Name, Symbol, NumberMercury, Hg, 80
Chemical series transition metals
Group, Period, Block12 (IIB), 6 , d
Density, Hardness 13579.04 kg/m3, 1.5
Appearance Silvery white
Atomic Properties
Atomic weight 200.59 amu
Atomic radius (calc.) 150 (171) pm
Covalent radius 149 pm
van der Waals radius 155 pm
Electron configuration [Xe]44f14 5d10 6s2
e- 's per energy level2, 8, 18, 32, 18, 2
Oxidation states (Oxide) 2, 1 (mildly basic)
Crystal structure Rhombohedral
Physical Properties
State of matter Liquid (__)
Melting point 234.32 K (-37.89 F)
Boiling point 629.88 K (674.11 F)
Molar volume 14.09 ×1010-3 m3/mol
Heat of vaporization 59.229 kJ/mol
Heat of fusion 2.295 kJ/mol
Vapor pressure 0.0002 Pa at 234 K
Speed of sound 1407 m/s at 293.15 K
Electronegativity 2.00 (Pauling scale)
Specific heat capacity 140 J/(kg*K)
Electrical conductivity 1.04 106/m ohm
Thermal conductivity 8.34 W/(m*K)
1st ionization potential 1007.1 kJ/mol
2nd ionization potential 1810 kJ/mol
3rd ionization potential 3300 kJ/mol
Most Stable Isotopes
isoNAhalf-life DMDE MeVDP
194Hg{syn.}444 y &epsilon0.040194Au
196Hg0.15%Hg is stable with 116 neutrons
198Hg9.97%Hg is stable with 118 neutrons
199Hg16.87%Hg is stable with 119 neutrons
200Hg23.1%Hg is stable with 120 neutrons
201Hg13.18%Hg is stable with 121 neutrons
202Hg29.86%Hg is stable with 122 neutrons
204Hg6.87%Hg is stable with 124 neutrons
SI units & STP are used except where noted.
Mercury, also called quicksilver, is a chemical element in the periodic table that has the symbol Hg and atomic number 80. A heavy, silvery, toxic, transition metal, mercury is one of only two elements that are liquid at everyday room-temperatures (the other is Bromine) and is used in thermometers, barometers and other scientific apparatus. Mercury is mostly obtained by reduction from the mineral cinnabar.

Table of contents
1 Notable characteristics
2 Applications
3 History
4 Occurrence
5 Compounds
6 Isotopes
7 Precautions
8 External links

Notable characteristics

Mercury is a heavy, silvery-white univalent and bivalent transition metal that is a relatively poor conductor of heat but a decent conductor of electricity and is the only common metal that is liquid at room temperature (forming an opaque glistening liquid).

Mercury easily forms alloys with almost all common metals, including gold and silver but not iron. Any of these alloys is called an amalgam.

The freezing point of mercury is -40 ° Celsius which is the same as -40 ° Fahrenheit. This is the only point at which these two temperature scales coincide.

This metal also has uniform volumetric thermal expansion, is less reactive than zinc and cadmium and does not displace hydrogen from acids. Common oxidation states of this element are; mercurous, or +1, and mercuric, or +2. Rare instances of +3 mercury compounds exist.


Most mercury is used for the manufacture of industrial chemicals and for electrical and electronic applications. In addition, mercury is widely used in thermometers, especially ones which are used to measure high temperatures. Other uses; Miscellaneous uses; mercury switches, pesticides, dental amalgams/preparations, mercury cells for caustic soda and chlorine production, anti-fouling paint, electrode in some types of electrolysis, batteries (mercury cells), and catalysts.


Mercury was known to the ancient Chinese and Hindus and was found in Egyptian tombs that date from 1500s BC. By 500 BC it was used to make amalgams with other metals. The ancient Greekss used this toxic metal in ointments and the Romans used it in cosmetics. Alchemists thought it to be the stuff from which all matter was formed and they also thought that when it hardened it turned into gold.

In the 18th and 19th centuries, mercury nitrate was used to remove fur from the animal skins from which felt hats were made. This caused many cases of brain damage among hatters, or milliners, leading, it is claimed, to the simile "as mad as a hatter", and thereby to the Mad Hatter of Alice in Wonderland fame.

It was named by alchemists after the Roman god Mercury. Its symbol Hg comes from hydrargyrum, a Latinised form of the Greek word hydrargyros, which was a compound word whose Greek roots meant 'water' and 'silver'. Mercury is one of the few elements that has an alchemical symbol. If you have the right browser and font to support Unicode, you should see the symbol here: ☿.


A rare element in the earth's crust, mercury is found either as a native metal (rare) or in cinnabar, corderoite, livingstonite, and other minerals with cinnabar (HgS) being the most common ore. Approximately 50% of the global supply comes from Spain and Italy with much of the rest coming from Yugoslavia, Russia, and North America. The metal is extracted by heating cinnabar in a current of air and by condensing the vapor.


The most important salts are:
Organic mercury compoundss are also important. Laboratory test have found that electrical discharge causes the noble gases neon, argon, krypton, and xenon to combine with mercury vapor. The products of this combination are held together with van der Waals forces and result in HgNe, HgAr, HgKr, and HgXe. Methyl mercury is a dangerous compound that is widely found as a pollutant in water bodies and streams.


There are seven stable isotopes of mercury with Hg-202 being the most abundant (26.86%). The longest-lived radioisotopes are Hg-194 with a half-life of 444 years, and Hg-203 with a half-life of 46.612 days. Most of the remaining radioisotopes have half-lifes that are less than a day.


Mercury is highly toxic in both
liquid and gaseous forms. This is a toxic heavy metal that causes brain and liver damage if it is ingested. For this reason, thermometers which are only intended to measure typical climatic temperatures now use pigmented alcohol instead; the boiling point of alcohol is higher than any natural temperature expected on Earth. Some medical thermometers still use mercury, for reason of accuracy. Care must be exercised not to bite such a thermometer. The commercial unit for handling mercury is the "flask," which weighs 76 lb.

Mercury is a very dangerous bioaccumulative toxin that is easily absorbed through skin, respiratory and gastrointestinal tissues. Minamata disease is a form of mercury poisoning. Mercury attacks the central nervous system and adversely affects the mouth, gums, and teeth. High exposure over long periods of time will result in brain damage and ultimately death. Air saturated with mercury vapor at room temperature is at a concentration many times the toxic level, despite the high boiling point (the danger is increased at higher temperatures). Mercury should therefore be handled with great care. Containers of mercury need to be covered securely to avoid spillage and evaporation. Heating of mercury or mercury compounds should always be done under a well-ventilated hood; some oxides in particular can decompose into elemental mercury, which immediately evaporates and may not be obvious.

External links

simple:Mercury (element)