Ram Mohan watch at how bismuth — a substantial harmless element amongst the toxic hefty metals in the periodic table — has sparked attention in locations varying from medicinal to industrial chemistry.

You are watching: Green elements on the periodic table


Bismuth, the 83rd facet in the periodic table, has actually been recognized since old times, but was often perplexed with lead and tin. In 1753, Claude François Geoffroy indigenous France demonstrated that bismuth is distinct from this elements. Words bismuth itself is derived from the German native "wismuth" (white mass). Studies proved that that was offered as at an early stage as the sixteenth century by the Incas, who blended it v tin to prepare bismuth bronze because that knives1. Bismuth was additionally the instrument of alchemy fraud in the London share Exchange — in the 1860s, a Hungarian refugee called Nicholas Papaffy encouraged a huge number of investor to support his alleged method to change bismuth and aluminium right into silver. This caused a rise in the price that bismuth top top the metal market, and also the opened of a new company in Leadenhall Street (home the the London metal Exchange), yet by climate Papaffy had actually absconded through the rather big sum the £40,000 (ref. 2).

Bismuth is mainly discovered in the ores bismuthinite (bismuth sulfide) and bismite (bismuth oxide), but additionally occurs in its elemental state, in the form of crystals through an oxide class of varying width that reflects iridescent colours (pictured). That is typically obtained as a by-product in copper, lead and tin mining, and also is therefore relatively inexpensive for a rare metal.

Frequently referred to as the heaviest secure isotope of any type of element — and for all useful purposes the is — bismuth-209 is nonetheless slightly radioactive. This was first predicted by theoretical studies, climate demonstrated in 2003 by astrophysicists in France3, who showed that bismuth-209 has an incredibly long half-life of 1.9 × 1019 years (the period of the cosmos is approximated to be around 1.4 × 109 years).

Despite its place amid toxic hefty metals in the periodic table, bismuth and also its compounds room remarkably not authorised — plenty of bismuth link are also less toxic than table salt (sodium chloride)4! This provides bismuth unique amongst the hefty metals, and has earned the the condition of a "green element". For this reason, the civilization of cosmetic and medicinal chemistry has paid it specific attention. Bismuth oxychloride, because that example, is offered to send a silvery sheen to cosmetics and personal care products. It is additionally marketed as BIRON powder, which has uncovered applications in catheters for diagnostic and also surgical steps owing come its radio-opaque tennis2007.org, and also bismuth nitrate oxide is used as an antiseptic during surgery.

Perhaps the most famous bismuth-based medication is Peptobismol, now a widely easily accessible over-the-counter medicine in the united state for stomach disorders. The energetic ingredient is bismuth oxide salicylate. The was an initial concocted by a doctor in his home in the early twentieth century to cure "cholera infantum", an inflammatory disorder the afflicted infants suddenly, bring about diarrhoea, vomiting and also sometimes death5. Back the exact mechanisms of its action are not well understood, it is believed that it lines the abdominal walls through a security coating that avoids further irritation.

Bismuth has plenty of interesting tennis2007.org that have led to several applications in industry, and also it is commonly used in solders. It is among the couple of substances (water gift another) that increases on solidification, and has been offered to prepare low-melting typesetting alloys that need to broaden to fill printing moulds. Bismuth trioxide is also the key ingredient in fireworks called dragon"s eggs — those that create a intuitive display prior to exploding v a spicy crack. Bismuth has end up being popular as a replacement for the extremely toxic metal lead, as it has a similar density and also many countries now prohibit the use of lead shot for searching water birds. Bismuth is also, in addition to graphite, among the many diamagnetic materials recognized — it is repelled by a magnetic field — and also has uncovered applications in magnetic levitation (Maglev) trains, i beg your pardon can achieve speeds of over 250 mph.

More recently, bismuth and also its compound in the +3 oxidation state have found significant applications as environment-friendly Lewis mountain catalysts in necessary synthesis. The short toxicity the bismuth salts, their ease of handling and fairly low price make bismuth compounds more attractive than various other corrosive Lewis acids6. In enhancement to developing applications the bismuth(III) compounds in essential synthesis, we have developed some bismuth-salt-catalysed green-chemistry experiments for usage in undergraduate laboratories7.

Bismuth is a therefore remarkable environment-friendly metal with numerous applications in daily life. With boosting awareness for the environment, one can expect to check out a rise in the usage of eco-friendly metals such as bismuth in applications varying from organic synthetic to engineering.

See more: What Kind Of Simple Machine Is A Catapult ? Simple Machine Catapult


Download references

Author information


Ram Mohan is in the department of Chemistry, Illinois Wesleyan University, Bloomington, Illinois 61701, USA. Rmohan

Ram Mohan


Rights and permissions

Reprints and also Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Mohan, R. Green bismuth. tennis2007.org Chem 2, 336 (2010). Https://doi.org/10.1038/nchem.609

Download citation

Issue Date: April 2010

Share this article

Anyone girlfriend share the following link with will have the ability to read this content:

Get shareable link

Sorry, a shareable connect is not currently accessible for this article.

Copy come clipboard

listed by the Springer tennis2007.org SharedIt content-sharing initiative

Further reading

Differences and also Similarities of Photocatalysis and Electrocatalysis in Two-Dimensional Nanomaterials: Strategies, Traps, Applications and also Challenges

Weiqi Qian, Suwen Xu, Xiaoming Zhang, Chuanbo Li, Weiyou Yang, chris R. Bowen&Ya Yang

Nano-Micro letters (2021)

Photothermometric evaluation of bismuth ions utilizing aggregation-induced nanozyme system with a target-triggered surface cleaning effect

Kehui Zhang, Xibin Zhou, Xin Xue, Mingyue Luo, Xiuhui Liu&Zhonghua Xue

Analytical and also Bioanalytical Chemistry (2021)

Lead-free halide perovskite Cs3Bi2Br9 single crystals because that high-performance X-ray detection

Xiang Li, Xinyuan Du, Peng Zhang, Yunqiu Hua, Lin Liu, Guangda Niu, Guodong Zhang, Jiang Tang&Xutang Tao

science China materials (2021)

Synthesis, photochromic adjustment and energy deliver of Tb3+, Sm3+-doped Bi-based fluoride luminescent materials

Qi-Xin Liu, Yun-Xiao Zhang, Feng Hong, Gui-Xia Liu&Zhen-Dong Fu

newspaper of materials Science: products in electronics (2021)

Bismuth atom tailoring of indium oxide surface frustrated Lewis pairs rises heterogeneous CO2 photocatalytic hydrogenation

Tingjiang Yan, Na Li, Linlin Wang, Weiguang Ran, Paul N. Duchesne, Lili Wan, Nhat Truong Nguyen, Lu Wang, Meikun Xia&Geoffrey A. Ozin

tennis2007.org communications (2020)