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  • Hafnium is a chemical element that has the symbol Hf and atomic number 72. A lustrous, silvery gray tetravalent transition metal, hafnium resembles zirconium chemically and it is found in zirconium minerals.
  • Hafnium is used in tungsten alloys in filaments and electrodes, in integrated circuits as a gate insulator for transistors, and as a neutron absorber in control rods in nuclear power plants.
  • Hafnium is estimated to make up about 0.00058% of the Earth's upper crust by weight. It is found combined in natural zirconium compounds but it does not exist as a free element in nature.
  • Minerals that contain zirconium, such as alvite [(Hf, Th, Zr)SiO4 H2O], thortveitite, and zircon (ZrSiO4), usually contain between 1 and 5% hafnium.
  • Hafnium and zirconium have nearly identical chemistry, which makes the two difficult to separate.
  • About half of all hafnium metal manufactured is produced as a by-product of zirconium refinement. This is done through reducing hafnium chloride with magnesium or sodium in the Kroll process.
  • Hafnium is found in various alloyed and unalloyed forms such as plate, strip, sheet, rod, wire and tube – similar to zirconium metal.
  • Hafnium is used to make control rods for nuclear reactors because of its ability to absorb neutrons , excellent mechanical properties and exceptional corrosion-resistance properties.
  • Hafnium is used in gas-filled and incandescent lamps, for scavenging oxygen and nitrogen.
  • A hafnium-based compound is employed in gate insulators in the 45 nm generation of integrated circuits from Intel, IBM and others.
  • Hafnium oxide-based compounds are practical high-k dielectrics, allowing reduction of the gate leakage current which improves performance at such scales.
  • DARPA has been intermittently funding programs in the US to determine the possibility of using a nuclear isomer of hafnium to construct small, high yield weapons with simple x-ray triggering mechanisms—an application of induced gamma emission.
  • Small additions of hafnium increase the adherence of protective oxide scales on nickel based alloys.
  • Hafnium improves thereby the corrosion resistance especially under cyclic temperature conditions that tend to break oxide scales by inducing thermal stresses between the bulk material and the oxide layer.

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