Tellurium (Te)

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Tellurium 52Te127.60

Tellurium was discovered in1783 by Baron Franz Joseph Müller von Reichenstein at Sibiu, Romania.

[Latin, tellus = earth]

French: tellure
German: tellur
Italian: tellurio
Spanish: teluro

Description: Tellurium is a silvery-white, metallic-looking in bulk, but is usually obtained as a dark grey powder. It is a semi-metal. Tellurium burns in air or oxygen, is unaffected by water or HCl, but dissolves in HNO3. It is used in alloys to improve machinability, in electronics, and in catalysts.



Tellurium single crystal properties

State: Single crystal
Crystal structure: Hexagonal
Production method: Czochralski
Standard size: diameter 10mm
thickness 1-2mm
Orientation: (0001), (1100) and (11-20)
Orientation accuracy: <2°, <1°, <0.4° or <0.25°
Polishing: as cut, one or two sides polished
Roughness of surface: <0.03µm
Purity: 99.999%
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: 6.24 g/cm3
Melting point: 449.55 °C / 722.7 °K
Boiling point: 989.85 °C / 1263.0 °K
Molar volume: 20.45 cm3
Thermal conductivity: 2.35 [300 K] Wm-1K-1
Coefficient of linear thermal expansion: 16.75 x 10-6 K-1
Electrical resistivity: 4.36x 10-3 [298 K] Wm
Mass magnetic susceptibility: -3.9 x 10-9(s) kg-1m3
Young's modulus: 47.1 GPa
Rigidity modulus: 16.7 GPa
Bulk modulus: n.a. GPa
Poisson's ratio: 0.16 - 0.3
Radii: Te3+ 56; Te4+ 97; Te2- 211; atomic 143; covalent 1
Electronegativity: 2.1 (Pauling); 2.01 (Allred); 5.49 eV (absolute)
Effective nuclear charge: 6.95 (Slater); 10.81 (Clementi); 13.51 (Froese-Fischer)
Number of Isotopes (incl. nuclear isomers): 39
Issotope mass range: 108 -> 137
Crystal structure, (cell dimentions / pm), space group Hexagonal
X-ray diffraction: mass absorption coefficients: CuKα 282 (µ/r) / cm2g-1
MoKα 35.0 (µ/r) / cm2g-1
Neutron scattering length: 0.580 b/10-12 cm
Thermal neutron capture cross-section: 4.7 sa / barns


Biological data

Biological role: none
Toxic intake: Elemental tellurium has low toxicity but unpleasant side effects, producing extremely unpleasant bre
Lethal intake: 2 g of sodium tellurite has proved fatal to a human. LD50 (Te metal, oral, rat)= 83 mg kg-1
Hazards: Tellurium compounds are toxic by ingestion and intravenous routes. They are also considered to be experimental tetratogens.
Level in humans  
Blood: 0.0055 mg dm-3
Bone: n.a.
Liver: 0.014 p.p.m.
Muscle: 0.017 p.p.m.
Daily dietary intake: c. 0.6 mg
Total mass of element in average [70 kg] person: c. 0.7 mg


Geological data

MineralFormulaDensityHardnessCrystal apperance
Sylvanite AgAuTe4 8.16 1.5 - 2 mon., met. grey
Tellurite TeO2 5.90 2 orth., sub-adamantine white


Chief ore: none mined as such. Tellurium is obtained from the anode slime of copper refining.
World production: 215 tonnes/year
Main mining areas: Sylvanite in Australia, USA and Romania
Reserves: n.a.
Specimen: available as granules, ingots, pieces or powder. DANGER !


Sun: n.a.
Earth's crust: c. 0.005 p.p.m.
Residence time:  
Classification: scavenged
Oxidation state: IV and VI; mainly VI

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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