Periodic Table > Nickel
 

Terminology


Allotropes
Some elements exist in several different structural forms, these are called allotropes.


For more information on Murray Robertson’s image see Uses and properties facts below.

 

Fact box terminology


Group
Elements appear in columns or ‘groups’ in the periodic table. Members of a group typically have similar properties and electron configurations in their outer shell.


Period
Elements are laid out into rows or ‘periods’ so that similar chemical behaviour is observed in columns.


Block
Elements are organised into blocks by the orbital type in which the outer electrons are found. These blocks are named for the characteristic spectra they produce: sharp, principal, diffuse, and fundamental.


Atomic Number
The number of protons in the nucleus.


Atomic Radius/non -bonded (Å)
based on Van der Waals forces (where several isotopes exist, a value is presented for the most prevalent isotope). These values were calculated using a multitude of methods including crystallographic data, gas kinetic collision cross sections, critical densities, liquid state properties, for more details please refer to the CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics.


Electron Configuration
The arrangements of electrons above the last (closed shell) noble gas.


Isotopes
Elements are defined by the number of protons in its centre (nucleus), whilst the number of neutrons present can vary. The variations in the number of neutrons will create elements of different mass which are known as isotopes.


Melting Point (oC)
The temperature at which the solid-liquid phase change occurs.


Melting Point (K)
The temperature at which the solid-liquid phase change occurs.


Melting Point (oF)
The temperature at which the solid-liquid phase change occurs.


Boiling Point (oC)
The temperature at which the liquid-gas phase change occurs.


Boiling Point (K)
The temperature at which the liquid-gas phase change occurs.


Boiling Point (oF)
The temperature at which the liquid-gas phase change occurs.


Sublimation
Elements that do not possess a liquid phase at atmospheric pressure (1 atm) are described as going through a sublimation process.


Density (g cm-3)
Density is the mass of a substance that would fill 1 cm3 at room temperature.


Relative Atomic Mass
The mass of an atom relative to that of Carbon-12. This is approximately the sum of the number of protons and neutrons in the nucleus. Where more than one isotope exists the value given is the abundance weighted average.


Key Isotopes (% abundance)
An element must by definition have a fixed number of protons in its nucleus, and as such has a fixed atomic number, however variants of an element can exist with differing numbers of neutrons, and hence a different atomic masses (e.g. 12C has 6 protons and 6 neutrons and 13C has 6 protons and 7 neutrons).


CAS number
The Chemical Abstracts Service registry number is a unique identifier of a particular chemical, designed to prevent confusion arising from different languages and naming systems (where several isotopes exist, a value is presented for the most prevalent isotope).

Fact box

 
Group 10  Melting point 1455 oC, 2651 oF, 1728.15 K 
Period Boiling point 2913 oC, 5275.4 oF, 3186.15 K 
Block Density (g cm-3) 8.9 
Atomic number 28  Relative atomic mass 58.693  
State at room temperature Solid  Key isotopes 58Ni 
Electron configuration [Ar] 3d84s2  CAS number 7440-02-0 
ChemSpider ID 910 ChemSpider is a free chemical structure database
 

Uses and properties terminology


Image Explanation

Murray Robertson is the artist behind the images which make up Visual Elements. This is where the artist explains his interpretation of the element and the science behind the picture.


Natural Abundance

Where this element is most commonly found in nature.


Biological Roles

The elements role within the body of humans, animals and plants. Also functionality in medical advancements both today and years ago.


Appearance

The description of the element in its natural form.

Uses and properties

 
Image explanation
The image is of baked beans, which contain a surprising amount of nickel.
Appearance

A silvery metal that resists corrosion even at high temperatures.

Uses

Nickel resists corrosion and is used to plate other metals to protect them. It is, however, mainly used in making alloys such as stainless steel. Nichrome is an alloy of nickel and chromium with small amounts of silicon, manganese and iron. It resists corrosion, even when red hot, so is used in toasters and electric ovens. A copper-nickel alloy is commonly used in desalination plants, which convert seawater into fresh water. Nickel steel is used for armour plating. Other alloys of nickel are used in boat propeller shafts and turbine blades.

Nickel is used in batteries, including rechargeable nickel-cadmium batteries and nickel-metal hydride batteries used in hybrid vehicles.

Nickel has a long history of being used in coins. The US five-cent piece (known as a ‘nickel’) is 25% nickel and 75% copper.

Finely divided nickel is used as a catalyst for hydrogenating vegetable oils. Adding nickel to glass gives it a green colour.

Biological role

The biological role of nickel is uncertain. It can affect the growth of plants and has been shown to be essential to some species.

Some nickel compounds can cause cancer if the dust is inhaled, and some people are allergic to contact with the metal.

Nickel cannot be avoided completely. We take in nickel compounds with our diet. It is an essential element for some beans, such as the navy bean that is used for baked beans.

Natural abundance

The minerals from which most nickel is extracted are iron/nickel sulfides such as pentlandite. It is also found in other minerals, including garnierite.

A substantial amount of the nickel on Earth arrived with meteorites. One of these landed in the region near Ontario, Canada, hundreds of millions of years ago. This region is now responsible for about 15% of the world’s production.

 
Atomic data terminology

Atomic radius/non -bonded (Å)
Based on Van der Waals forces (where several isotopes exist, a value is presented for the most prevalent isotope). These values were calculated using a multitude of methods including crystallographic data, gas kinetic collision cross sections, critical densities, liquid state properties,for more details please refer to the CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics.


Electron affinity (kJ mol-1)
The energy released when an additional electron is attached to the neutral atom and a negative ion is formed (where several isotopes exist, a value is presented for the most prevalent isotope). *


Electronegativity (Pauling scale)
The degree to which an atom attracts electrons towards itself, expressed on a relative scale as a function bond dissociation energies, Ed in eV. χA - χB =(eV)-1/2sqrt(Ed(AB)-[Ed(AA)+Ed(BB)]/2), with χH set as 2.2 (where several isotopes exist, a value is presented for the most prevalent isotope).


1st Ionisation energy (kJ mol-1)
The minimum energy required to remove an electron from a neutral atom in its ground state (where several isotopes exist, a value is presented for the most prevalent isotope).


Covalent radius (Å)
The size of the atom within a covalent bond, given for typical oxidation number and coordination (where several isotopes exist, a value is presented for the most prevalent isotope). ***

Atomic data

 
Atomic radius, non-bonded (Å) 1.97 Covalent radius (Å) 1.17
Electron affinity (kJ mol-1) 111.498 Electronegativity
(Pauling scale)
1.91
Ionisation energies
(kJ mol-1)
 
1st
737.128
2nd
1753.025
3rd
3395.316
4th
5297.041
5th
7338.669
6th
10420.408
7th
12832.539
8th
15630.612
 

Mining/Sourcing Information

Data for this section of the data page has been provided by the British Geological Survey. To review the full report please click here or please look at their website here.


Key for numbers generated


Governance indicators

1 (low) = 0 to 2

2 (medium-low) = 3 to 4

3 (medium) = 5 to 6

4 (medium-high) = 7 to 8

5 (high) = 9


Reserve distribution (%)

1 (low) = 0 to 30 %

2 (medium-low) = 30 to 45 %

3 (medium) = 45 to 60 %

4 (medium-high) = 60 to 75 %

5 (high) = 75 %

(Where data are unavailable an arbitrary score of 2 was allocated. For example, Be, As, Na, S, In, Cl, Ca and Ge are allocated a score of 2 since reserve base information is unavailable. Reserve base data are also unavailable for coal; however, reserve data for 2008 are available from the Energy Information Administration (EIA).)


Production Concentration

1 (low) = 0 to 30 %

2 (medium-low) = 30 to 45 %

3 (medium) = 45 to 60 %

4 (medium-high) = 60 to 75 %

5 (high) = 75 %


Crustal Abundance

1 (low) = 100 to 1000 ppm

2 (medium-low) =10 to 100 ppm

3 (medium) = 1 to 10 ppm

4 (medium-high) = 0.1 to 1 ppm

5 (high) = 0.1 ppm

(Where data are unavailable an arbitrary score of 2 was allocated. For example, He is allocated a score of 2 since crustal abundance data is unavailable.)


Explanations for terminology


Crustal Abundance (ppm)

The abundance of an element in the Earth's crust in parts-per-million (ppm) i.e. The number of atoms of this element per 1 million atoms of crust.


Sourced

The country with the largest reserve base.


Reserve distribution (%)

This is a measure of the spread of future supplies, recording the percentage of a known resource likely to be available in the intermediate future (reserve base) located in the top three countries.


Production Concentrations

This reports the percentage of an element produced in the top three countries. The higher the value, the larger risk there is to supply.


Political stability of top producer

The World Bank produces a global percentile rank of political stability. The scoring system is given below, and the values for all three production countries were summed.


Relative Supply Risk Index

The Crustal Abundance, Reserve distribution (%), Production Concentration and Governance Factor scores are summed and then divided by 2, to provide an overall Relative Supply Risk Index.

Supply risk

 
Relative supply risk 4
Crustal abundance (ppm) 26.6
Recycling rate (%) Unknown
Substitutability Unknown
Production concentration (%) 21.6
Reserve distribution (%) 19.3
Top 3 producers
  • 1) Russia
  • 2) Indonesia
  • 3) Australia
Top 3 reserve holders
  • 1) Australia
  • 2) Cuba
  • 3) Canada
Political stability of top producer 7
Political stability of top reserve holder Unknown
 

Oxidation states and isotopes


Key for Isotopes


Half Life
  y years
  d days
  h hours
  m minutes
  s seconds
Mode of decay
  α alpha particle emission
  β negative beta (electron) emission
  β+ positron emission
  EC orbital electron capture
  sf spontaneous fission
  ββ double beta emission
  ECEC double orbital electron capture

Terminology


Common Oxidation states
The oxidation state of an atom is a measure of the degree of oxidation of an atom. It is defined as being the charge that an atom would have if all bonds were ionic. Free atoms have an oxidation state of 0, and the sum of oxidation numbers within a substance must equal the overall charge.


Important Oxidation states
The most common oxidation states of an element in its compounds.


Isotopes
Elements are defined by the number of protons in its centre (nucleus), whilst the number of neutrons present can vary. The variations in the number of neutrons will create elements of different mass which are known as isotopes.

Oxidation states and isotopes

 
Common oxidation states 3, 2, 0
Isotopes Isotope Atomic mass Natural abundance (%) Half life Mode of decay
  58Ni 57.935 68.077 > 4 x 1019 EC-EC 
  60Ni 59.931 26.223
  61Ni 60.931 1.14
  62Ni 61.928 3.634
  64Ni 63.928 0.926
 

Pressure and temperature - advanced terminology


Specific heat capacity (J kg-1 K-1)

Specific heat capacity is the amount of energy needed to change the temperature of a kilogram of a substance by 1 K.


Young's modulus (GPa)

Young's modulus is a measure of the stiffness of a substance, that is, it provides a measure of how difficult it is to extend a material, with a value given by the ratio of tensile strength to tensile strain.


Shear modulus (GPa)

The shear modulus of a material is a measure of how difficult it is to deform a material, and is given by the ratio of the shear stress to the shear strain.


Bulk modulus (GPa)

The bulk modulus is a measure of how difficult to compress a substance. Given by the ratio of the pressure on a body to the fractional decrease in volume.


Vapour Pressure (Pa)

Vapour pressure is the measure of the propensity of a substance to evaporate. It is defined as the equilibrium pressure exerted by the gas produced above a substance in a closed system.

Pressure and temperature data – advanced

 
Specific heat capacity
(J kg-1 K-1)
444 Young's modulus (GPa) 199.5 (soft): 219.2 (hard)
Shear modulus (GPa) 76 (soft): 83.9 (hard) Bulk modulus (GPa) 177.3 (soft); 187.6 (hard)
Vapour pressure  
Temperature (K)
400 600 800 1000 1200 1400 1600 1800 2000 2200 2400
Pressure (Pa)
- - - 2.19
x 10-10
1.09
x 10-6
4.71
x 10-4
4.38
x 10-2
1.37 19.5 - -
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History

Meteorites contain both iron and nickel, and earlier ages used them as a superior form of iron. Because the metal did not rust, it was regarded by the natives of Peru as a kind of silver. A zinc-nickel alloy called pai-t’ung (white copper) was in use in China as long ago as 200 BC. Some even reached Europe.


In 1751, Alex Fredrik Cronstedt, working at Stockholm, investigated a new mineral – now called nickeline (NiAs) – which came from a mine at Los, Hälsingland, Sweden. He thought it might contain copper but what he extracted was a new metal which he announced and named nickel in 1754. Many chemists thought it was an alloy of cobalt, arsenic, iron and copper – these elements were present as trace contaminants. It was not until 1775 that pure nickel was produced by Torbern Bergman and this confirmed its elemental nature.

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Podcasts

Listen to Nickel Podcast
Transcript :

Chemistry in its element - nickel


(Promo) 

You're listening to Chemistry in its element brought to you by Chemistry World, the magazine of the Royal Society of Chemistry

(End promo) 

Meera Senthilingam 

 

This week even art galleries can spark chemical, or elemental, discussions. Andrea Sella.

 

Andrea Sella

 

Several years ago, I went with a friend to a small exhibition at London's National Gallery. It was a rare opportunity to see the masterpieces from the Doria Pamphilii gallery in Rome. The centrepiece was the famous portrait of Pope Innocent X by Velazquez, a spectacular snapshot of one of the most powerful men of his day, a tough-looking character in a gilded throne, sporting a neat goatee and a fierce and uncompromising glint in his eye. 

Across from it were hung Francis Bacon's disturbing Three Screaming Popes, nightmarish variants on Velazquez' theme. The pictures were so ugly and brutal that I instinctively blinked and looked away, upwards. Unexpectedly, my eyes fell on a set of golden letters across the top of the doorway. I giggled and my friend said to me, 'what's so funny? These pictures are just awful.' 

'Mond', I replied, 'fancy finding him here.' 

'Who?' she asked, looking puzzled.  

'Mond,' I replied. 'This gallery was endowed by Ludwig Mond, the chemist who made nickel available to the world.' I fully expected her to roll her eyes and give me that pitying look that women reserve for the moment when the real nerd in a man is finally revealed.

But there was none of that. 

'I've never heard of him,' she said. 'Did he discover it?'

'No. He didn't. Nickel had been known for some time before that - it had been used in China and Peru to make a kind of steel. But it wasn't until the 19th century that two Swedish chemists, Cronstedt and Bergmann between them established that it was an element. It was named nickel after one of its ores, a reddish material that German miners called kupfernickel - St Nicholas's copper.' 

'But isn't nickel rather nasty? Wasn't there some problem with nickel jewellery?' my friend asked.

'Yes. Nickel has long been used in alloys and to plate other metals - the nickel provides a tough resistant and shiny coating that protects the object from corrosion.' 

'Oh, you mean a bit like chrome plating '.

'Yes, a bit like chrome, but less vulgar - chromium gives a brilliant shine. Nickel is a bit more subdued.'

'You mean classy.'

'I guess so. But the problem is that in contact with the skin, as in jewellery, the tiny amounts of nickel that dissolves in the sweat of the wearer was enough to cause skin reactions in some people and the using nickel turned out not to be a great idea.'

'But what about Mond?'

'Oh yeah. Right.' I replied. 'Mond was a German chemist who moved to the UK. And he had a problem - he was passing carbon monoxide gas through nickel valves and these kept failing and leaking. What Mond and his assistant Langer discovered was something remarkable - that his valves were corroding because the metal reacted with carbon monoxide, to make a compound called nickel carbonyl.'

'So what?'

'Well nickel carbonyl turned out to be a very volatile colourless liquid, one that boils just below room temperature.'

'Hmmm. Sounds a bit nasty,' she said doubtfully.

'Oh yes. Very. Because it's so volatile, you need to be really careful when you handle it since if you inhale it, it will decompose releasing poisonous carbon monoxide and dumping metallic nickel into your lungs. So it's very dangerous indeed. But in a way, that's the beauty of it: nickel carbonyl is incredibly fragile. If you heat it up it shakes itself to pieces, and you get both the nickel and the carbon monoxide back. So what Mond had was a deliciously simple way to separate and purify nickel from any other metal. And what is more, he could recycle the carbon monoxide.'

'Wow.'

'Mond wasn't just an observant chemist. He was also a pretty savvy business man. He patented his process and set up in business to sell the purest nickel at prices far lower than anyone else. He made an absolute fortune, and then steadily expanded into other areas of chemistry. His firm would eventually form the core of Imperial Chemical Industries, ICI, the conglomerate set up to defend British interests against, ironically, the onslaught of the burgeoning German chemicals industry.'

'So what do people do with nickel today, if it's so nasty,' she asked.

'Well, it's not really that nasty, provided you're careful in what you use it for. In the 1960s another German chemist named Wilke developed nickel compounds as cheap and simple catalysts for the petrochemicals industry to clip together small carbon molecules. It's also used in all sorts of alloys. There's Invar which is a kind of metallic pyrex, that doesn't expand or contract when you change the temperature. There's Monel, a steel so corrosion resistant that it will withstand even fluorine, which eats its way through just about anything. And there's the really weird memory metal, an alloy that no matter how much you twist and bend it, remembers its original shape and returns to it. And then there's superalloys made of nickel and aluminium with a dab of boron that are extremely light and actually get tougher as you heat them - so they're used in aircraft and rocket turbines.' 

I could see I was going a bit too far. We turned back to the Pope. 'He must have been a bruiser,' I said. 

'You know what I like about you?' my friend asked giving my arm a squeeze. 'It's that we go to see paintings and I end up hearing about weird stuff.' 

'And you know what I like about you,' I replied. 'It's that you humour me when I go off on one.'

No doubt you're expecting me to say that it all ended happily. It didn't, and I haven't seen her in years. But weirdly enough, every time I think of nickel, I think of her. And the filthy look the Pope gave me.

 

Meera Senthilingam 

So superalloys, relationships and the pope, what diverse chemical thoughts and stories nickel provokes. That was UCL's Andrea Sella with a contemporary story to nickel. Now next week the discovery of xenon.   

 

Peter Wothers

 

The story of xenon begins in 1894 when Lord Rayleigh and William Ramsay were investigating why nitrogen extracted from chemical compounds is about one-half per cent lighter than nitrogen extracted from the air - an observation first made by Henry Cavendish 100 years earlier. Ramsay found that after atmospheric nitrogen has reacted with hot magnesium metal, a tiny proportion of a heavier and even less reactive gas is left over.   They named this gas argon from the Greek for lazy or inactive to reflect its extreme inertness.   The problem was, where did this new element fit into Mendeleev's periodic table of the elements?   There were no other known elements that it resembled which led them to suspect that there was a whole family of elements yet to be discovered.   Remarkably, this turned out to be the case.  

 

Meera Senthilingam 

And to hear how this story paned out, leading to the discovery of a new family of elements as well as xenon that would go on to light our roads and propel spaceships join Cambridge University's Peter Wothers in next week's Chemistry in its element. Until then thank you for listening, I'm Meera Senthilingam

(Promo) 

Chemistry in its element is brought to you by the Royal Society of Chemistry and produced by thenakedscientists dot com. There's more information and other episodes of Chemistry in its element on our website at chemistryworld dot org forward slash elements. 

 

(End promo)

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Resources

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References

 
Images:  Visual Elements © Murray Robertson 2011
Mining and Sourcing data:  British Geological Survey – natural environment research council.
Text:  John Emsley Nature’s Building Blocks: An A-Z Guide to the Elements, Oxford University Press, 2nd Edition, 2011.
Additional information for platinum, gold, neodymium and dysprosium obtained from Material Value Consultancy Ltd www.matvalue.com
Data: CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics, CRC Press, 92nd Edition, 2011.
G. W. C. Kaye and T. H. Laby Tables of Physical and Chemical Constants, Longman, 16th Edition, 1995.
Members of the RSC can access these books through our library.