Specifications and Applications of Tellurium powder
Tellurium is a chemical element that has the symbol Te and atomic number 52. A brittle, mildly toxic, rare, silver-white metalloid which looks similar to tin, tellurium is chemically related to selenium and sulfur. It is occasionally found in native form, as elemental crystals. Tellurium is far more common in the universe than on Earth.
When crystalline, tellurium is silvery-white and when it is in pure state it has a metallic luster. It is a brittle and easily pulverized metalloid. Amorphous tellurium is found by precipitating it from a solution of tellurous or telluric acid (Te(OH)6). Tellurium is a semiconductor that shows a greater electrical conductivity in certain directions which depends on atomic alignment; the conductivity increases slightly when exposed to light (photoconductivity). When in its molten state, tellurium is corrosive to copper, iron and stainless steel. Tellurium adopts a polymeric structure, consisting of zig-zag chains of Te atoms. This gray material resists oxidation by air and is nonvolatile.
The largest consumer of tellurium is metallurgy, where it is used in iron, copper and lead alloys. When added to stainless steel and copper it makes these metals more machinable. It is alloyed into cast iron for promoting chill for spectroscopic purposes, as the presence of electrically conductive free graphite tends to deleteriously affect spark emission testing results. In lead it improves strength and durability and decreases the corrosive action of sulfuric acid.
Semiconductor and electronic industry uses
Solar panels, angled at about 30 degrees, reflect the blue sky from above a grassy field.
Tellurium powder is used in cadmium telluride (CdTe) solar panels. National Renewable Energy Laboratory lab tests using this material achieved some of the highest efficiencies for solar cell electric power generation. Massive commercial production of CdTe solar panels by First Solar in recent years has significantly increased tellurium demand. If some of the cadmium in CdTe is replaced by zinc then (Cd,Zn)Te is formed which is used in solid-state X-ray detectors.
Tellurium is used in the new phase change memory chips. developed by Intel. Bismuth telluride (Bi2Te3) and lead telluride are working elements of thermoelectric devices. Lead telluride is used in far-infrared detectors.
Tellurium powder has no known biological function, although fungi can incorporate it in place of sulfur and selenium into amino acids such as telluro-cysteine and telluro-methionine. Organisms have shown a highly variable tolerance to tellurium compounds. Most organisms metabolize tellurium partly to form dimethyl telluride although dimethyl ditelluride is also formed by some species. Dimethyl telluride has been observed in hot springs at very low concentrations.