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Information @ a Glance

General

  • Tellurium is a metalloid chemical element which is used in a variety of industries, primarily in the form of an additive to an assortment of compounds and alloys.
  • Tellurium symbol is Te and atomic number 52. A brittle silver-white metalloid which looks like tin, tellurium is chemically related to selenium and sulfur. Tellurium is primarily used in alloys and as a semiconductor.
  • It is relatively rare on the Earth's surface, and it is usually found in combination with other materials, such as gold.
  • Tellurium can be isolated through chemical or electrolytic processes. Because of its rarity, the element can be expensive, especially in a pure form.
  • Tellurium and its compounds are probably toxic and should be handled with care. Workmen exposed to as little as 0.01 mg/m3 of air, or less, develop "tellurium breath," which has a garlic-like odor.

Process

  • Tellurium is obtained as a byproduct of the electrolytic refining of copper. Although copper slimes are valued primarily for gold, silver, and occasionally platinum-group metals, tellurium is available to the refiner for the added cost of recovery and refining.
  • The process flow for the production of tellurium can be separated into two stages. The first stage involves the removal of copper from the copper slimes (an intermediary product is tellurous acid). The second stage involves the recovery of tellurium metal and purification of the recovered tellurium.
  • A common method for obtaining tellurium is to pass an electric current through dissolved tellurium dioxide (TeO2). The current breaks the tellurium dioxide down into oxygen and tellurium.

Technology

  • The alkylmetal generation technique using methyllithium can be applied to the determination of trace levels of inorganic tellurium in aqueous samples.
  • Thin films of Tellurium dioxide (TeO2) were investigated for γ-radiation dosimetry purposes. Samples were fabricated using thin film vapour deposition technique.
  • The feasibility of growing CdZnTe by liquid phase electroepitaxy. Based on our successful LPEE system of GaInAs, a new crucible to grow CdZnTe was developed.
  • Tellurium in carbon steels was determined by annular-shaped high power (1.0 kW) nitrogen microwave induced plasma (N2-MIP) atomic emission spectrometry (AES) with hydride generation technique.

Uses

  • Tellurium improves the machinability of copper and stainless steel, and its addition to lead decreases the corrosive action of sulfuric acid on lead and improves its strength and hardness.
  • Tellurium is also used as a catalyst in the manufacture of synthetic fibers.
  • Tellurium is used as a basic ingredient in blasting caps, and is added to cast iron for chill control.
  • Tellurium is used in ceramics. Bismuth telluride has been used in thermoelectric devices.

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