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Name, Symbol, NumberNiobium, Nb, 41
Chemical series Transition metals
Group, Period, Block5, 5 , d
Density, Hardness 8570 kg/m3, 6
Appearance grey metallic
Atomic Properties
Atomic weight 92.90638 amu
Atomic radius (calc.) 145 (198) pm
Covalent radius 137 pm
van der Waals radius no data
Electron configuration [Kr]4d4d4 5s1
e- 's per energy level2, 8, 18, 12, 1
Oxidation states (Oxide) 5, 3 (mildly acidic)
Crystal structure Cubic body centered
Physical Properties
State of matter solid (__)
Melting point 2750 K (4491 F)
Boiling point 5017 K (8571 F)
Molar volume 10.83 ×1010-3 m3/mol
Heat of vaporization 696.6 kJ/mol
Heat of fusion 26.4 kJ/mol
Vapor pressure 0.0755 Pa at 2741 K
Speed of sound 3480 m/s at 293.15 K
Electronegativity 1.6 (Pauling scale)
Specific heat capacity 265 J/(kg*K)
Electrical conductivity 6.93 106/m ohm
Thermal conductivity 53.7 W/(m*K)
1st ionization potential 652.1 kJ/mol
2nd ionization potential 1380 kJ/mol
3rd ionization potential 2416 kJ/mol
4th ionization potential 3700 kJ/mol
5th ionization potential 4877 kJ/mol
6th ionization potential 9847 kJ/mol
7th ionization potential 12100 kJ/mol
Most Stable Isotopes
isoNAhalf-life DMDE MeVDP
91Nb{syn.}680 y&epsilon 1.25391Zr
92Nb{syn.}3.47 E7 yβ-
93Nb100%Nb is stable with 52 neutrons
Meta{syn.}16.13 yIT 0.031 
94Nb{syn.}20,300 y β-2.04594Mo
SI units & STP are used except where noted.
Niobium (or columbium) is a chemical element in the periodic table that has the symbol Nb and atomic number 41. A rare, soft, gray, ductile transition metal, niobium is occurs in niobite and used in alloys. The most notable alloys are used to make special steels and strong welded joints. Niobium was discovered found in a variety of columbite (now called niobite) and was at first named after this mineral.

Table of contents
1 Notable Characteristics
2 Applications
3 History
4 Occurrence
5 Isotopes
6 Precautions
7 External Links

Notable Characteristics

Niobium is a shiny grey, ductile metal that takes on a bluish tinge when exposed to air at room temperature for extended periods. Niobium's chemical properties are almost identical to the chemical properties of tantalum, which appears below niobium in the periodic table.

When it is processed at even moderate temperatures niobium must be placed in a protective atmosphere. The metal begins to oxidize in air at 200 ° C and its oxidation states are +2, +3, +5.


Niobium has a number of uses: it is a component of some stainless steels and an alloy of other nonferrous metals. These alloys are strong and are often used in pipeline construction. Other uses; Niobium becomes a superconductor when lowered to cryogenic temperatures. At atmospheric pressure, it has the highest critical temperature of the elemental superconductors, 9.3 K. In addition, it is one of the three elemental superconductors that are Type II (the others being vanadium and technetium), meaning it remains a superconductor when subjected to high magnetic fields. Niobium-tin and niobium-titanium alloys are used as wires for superconducting magnets capable of producing exceedingly strong magnetic fields.


Niobium (Greek mythology: Niobe, daughter of Tantalus) was discovered by Charles Hatchett in 1801. Hatchett found niobium in columbite ore that was sent to England in the 1750s by John Winthrop who was the first governor of Connecticut. There was a considerable amount of confusion about the difference between the closely-related niobium and tantalum that wasn't resolved until 1846 by Heinrich Rose and Charles Marignac who rediscovered the element. Since Rose was unaware of Hatchett's work he gave the element a different name, niobium. In 1864 Christian Blomstrand was the first to prepare the metal. He did this by reducing niobium chloride by heating it in a hydrogen atmosphere.

Columbium was the name originally given to this element by Hatchet but the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) officially adopted "niobium" as the name for element 41 in 1950 after 100 years of controversy. Many leading chemical societies and government organizations refer to it by the official IUPAC name but most leading metallurgists, metal societies, and most leading American commercial producers still refer to the metal by the original "columbium."


The element is never found as a free element but does occur in niobite (Fe, Mn)(Nb, Ta)2)O6]), niobite-tantalite [(Fe, Mn)(Ta, Nb)2)O6], pyrochlore (NaCaNbNb2O6F), and euxenite [(Y, Ca, Ce, U, Th)(Nb, Ta, Ti)2O6]. Minerals that contain niobium often also contain tantalum. Large deposits of niobium have been found associated with carbonatites (carbon-silicate rocks) and as a constituent of pyrochlore. Brazil and Canada are the major producers of niobium mineral concentrates and extensive ore reserves are also in Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo, and in Russia.


Naturally occurring niobium is composed of one stable
isotope (Nb-93). The most stable radioisotopes are Nb-92 with a half life of 34.7 million years, Nb-94 (half life: 20300 years), and Nb-91 with a half life of 680 years. There is also a meta state at 0.031 mega electron volts whose half life is 16.13 years. Twenty three other radioisotopes have been characterized. Most of these have half lives that are less than two hours except Nb-95 (35 days), Nb-96 (23.4 hours) and Nb-90 (14.6 hours). The primary decay mode before the stable Nb-93 is electron capture and the primary mode after is beta emission with some neutron emission occurring in the first mode of the two mode decay of Nb-104, 109 and 110.


Niobium containing compounds are relatively rarely encountered by most people but many are highly toxic and should be treated with care. Metallic niobium dust is an eye and skin irritant and also can be a fire hazard. Niobium has no biological role.

External Links