Niobium (Nb)

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Niobium 41Nb92.906

Discovered in 1801 by C. Hatchett at London, England.

[Greek, Niobe = daughter of Tantalus]

French: Niobium
German: Niob
Italian: Niobio
Spanish: Niobio

Description: Niobium is a shiny, silvery metal, which is soft when pure. It resists corrosion due to an oxide film on the surface. Niobium is attacked by hot, concentrated acids, but resists attack by alkalis, even when they are molten. Niobium is used in stainless steels.



Niobium single crystal properties

State: single crystal
Crystal structure: bcc
Production method: Floating Zone
Standard size: diameter 8-12mm
thickness 1-2mm
Orientation: (100), (110) and (111)
Orientation accuracy: <2°, <1°, <0.4° or <0.1°
Polishing: as cut, one or two sides polished
Roughness of surface: <0.03µm
Purity: 99.99%
Typical analysis (ppm): C 3
H < 1
O 9
N < 5
Cu 1.60
Fe 1.80
Ni < 1
Pb 0.30
Si 0.30

Ga, Hf and Ta are below the detection limit

Materials properties

Density: 8.4 g/cm3
Melting point: 2467.85 °C / 2741 °K
Boiling point: 4741.85 °C / 5015 °K
Molar volume: 10.84 cm3
Thermal conductivity: 53.7 [300 K] Wm-1K-1
Coefficient of linear thermal expansion: 7.07 x 10-6 K-1
Electrical resistivity: 12.5x 10-8 [273 K] Wm
Mass magnetic susceptibility: +2.76 x 10-8(s) kg-1m3
Young's modulus: 104.9 GPa
Rigidity modulus: 37.5 GPa
Bulk modulus: 170.3 GPa
Poisson's ratio: 0.397
Radii: Nb5+ 69; Nb4+ 74; atomic 143; covalent 134
Electronegativity: 1.6 (Pauling); 1.23 (Allred); 4.0 eV (absolute)
Effective nuclear charge: 3.30 (Slater); 6.70 (Clementi); 9.60 (Froese-Fischer)
Number of Isotopes (incl. nuclear isomers): 31
Issotope mass range: 86 -> 103
Crystal structure, (cell dimentions / pm), space group bcc
X-ray diffraction: mass absorption coefficients: CuKα 153 (µ/r) / cm2g-1
MoKα 17.1 (µ/r) / cm2g-1
Neutron scattering length: 0.7054 b/10-12 cm
Thermal neutron capture cross-section: 1.15 sa / barns


Biological data

Biological role: none
Toxic intake: n.a.
Lethal intake: LD50 (chloride, oral, rat)= 1500 mg kg-1
Hazards: Niobium and its compounds may be toxic but there are no reports of humans beeing poisoned. Niobium dust causes eye and skin irritation.
Level in humans  
Blood: 0.005 mg dm-3
Bone: <0.07 p.p.m.
Liver: 0.14 p.p.m.
Muscle: 0.14 p.p.m.
Daily dietary intake: 0.02 - 0.6 mg
Total mass of element in average [70 kg] person: < 1.5 mg


Geological data

MineralFormulaDensityHardnessCrystal apperance
Betafite (Ca, U)2(Ti, Nb, Ta)2O6(OH) 4.5 4 - 5.5 cub., waxy/vit. black/greenish
Columbite (Fe, Mn)(Nb, Ta)2O6 varies c. 6 orth., opaque sub.met. lustre
Fergusonite YNbO4) 5.7 5.5 - 6.5 tet., vitreous, sub-met. black
Samarskite (Y, Ce, U, Fe)3(Nb, Ta, Ti)5O16 5.69 5 - 6 orth., vitreous/resinous black


Chief ore: columbite, samarskite, betafite; obtained as a by-product of tin-extraction.
World production: 15 000 tonnes/year
Main mining areas: Australia, Zaire, Brazil, Russia, Norway, Canada, Madagascar
Reserves: n.a.
Specimen: available as foil, powder, rod, turnings or wire. Safe.


Sun: 79 (relative to H = 1 x 1012)
Earth's crust: 20 p.p.m.
Residence time:  
Oxidation state: V

Source: Emsley, J. (1998) The Elements (3rd Edition)

Overview of elements with access to our shop

1 18
2 13 14 15 16 17
Li Be B C
Na Mg 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Al Si P S
K Ca Sc Ti V Cr Mn Fe Co Ni Cu Zn Ga Ge As Se
Rb Sr Y Zr Nb Mo
Ru Rh Pd Ag Cd In Sn Sb Te I
Cs Ba La Hf Ta W Re Os Ir Pt Au Hg Tl Pb Bi
Ce Pr Nd
Sm Eu Gd Tb Dy Ho Er Tm Yb Lu

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