Terminology


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


For more information on Murray Robertson’s image see Uses/Interesting 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 (kgm-3)
Density is the weight of a substance that would fill 1 m3 (at 298 K unless otherwise stated).


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 14  Melting point 327.46 oC, 621.428 oF, 600.61 K 
Period Boiling point 1749 oC, 3180.2 oF, 2022.15 K 
Block Density (kg m-3) 11343 
Atomic number 82  Relative atomic mass 207.2  
State at room temperature Solid  Key isotopes 208Pb 
Electron configuration [Xe] 4f145d106s26p2  CAS number 7439-92-1 
ChemSpider ID 4509317 ChemSpider is a free chemical structure database
 

Interesting Facts 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 / Interesting Facts

 
Image explanation
An element familiar to humans for many centuries reflected in the use of an early alchemical symbol and carved Roman characters used for the image.
Appearance
This easily-worked metal has been used for pipes, pewter and paint since Roman times. It has also been used in lead glazes for pottery and, in this century, as an additive to raise the octane level of petrol. All these uses have now either been banned, replaced or discouraged as lead is known to be detrimental to health, particularly that of children. Daily intake of lead from all sources is about a tenth of a milligramme, and the average human body stores about 120 milligrammes in the bones. Lead is still widely used for cable sheathing, car batteries, lead crystal glass, radiation protection and in some solders.
Source

Uses
Lead is very resistant to corrosion - lead pipes from Roman times are still in use today - and it is often used to store corrosive liquids. Great quantities of lead, both as the metal and the dioxide, are used in batteries. Lead is also used in cable covering, plumbing and ammunition. Tetraethyl lead is used as an anti-knock agent in petrol, and as an additive in paints. The use of lead in plumbing, petrol and paints has been reduced in the past few years because of environmental concern, as lead is a cumulative poison and is thought to affect brain development and function, especially in young children. Lead is an effective shield around X-ray equipment and nuclear reactors. Lead oxide is used in the production of fine crystal glass.
Biological role
Lead has no known biological role. It is toxic in a cumulative way, teratogenic and carcinogenic.
Natural abundance
Lead is obtained chiefly from the mineral galena by a roasting process. At least 40% of lead in the UK comes from secondary lead sources such as scrap batteries and pipes.
 
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) 2.020 Covalent radius (Å) 1.45
Electron affinity (kJ mol-1) 35.108 Electronegativity
(Pauling scale)
1.800
Ionisation energies
(kJ mol-1)
 
1st
715.598
2nd
1450.413
3rd
3081.479
4th
4083.256
5th
6638.186
6th
-
7th
-
8th
-
 

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 base 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 Base 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.


Total Governance Factor

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 Base Distribution, Production Concentration and Governance Factor scores are summed and then divided by 2, to provide an overall Relative Supply Risk Index.

Supply Risk

 
Scarcity factor 4.5
Country with largest reserve base Australia
Crustal abundance (ppm) 11
Leading producer China
Reserve base distribution (%) 34.70
Production concentration (%) 41.40
Total governance factor(production) 6
Top 3 countries (mined)
  • 1) Australia
  • 2) China
  • 3) USA
Top 3 countries (production)
  • 1) China
  • 2) Australia
  • 3) USA
 

Oxidation states/ 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 / Isotopes

 
Common oxidation states 4, 2
Isotopes Isotope Atomic mass Natural abundance (%) Half life Mode of decay
  204Pb 203.973 1.4
  206Pb 205.974 24.1
  207Pb 206.976 22.1
  208Pb 207.977 52.4 > 2 x 1019 sf 
 

Pressure and Temperature - Advanced Terminology


Molar Heat Capacity (J mol-1 K-1)

Molar heat capacity is the energy required to heat a mole 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 / Temperature - Advanced

 
Molar heat capacity
(J mol-1 K-1)
26.84 Young's modulus (GPa) 16.1
Shear modulus (GPa) 5.59 Bulk modulus (GPa) 45.8
Vapour pressure  
Temperature (K)
400 600 800 1000 1200 1400 1600 1800 2000 2200 2400
Pressure (Pa)
- 5.54
x 10-7
6.18
x 10-3
1.64 68.1 - - - - - -
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History

Lead has been mined for more than 6,000 years, and the metal and its compounds have been used throughout history. Small lead nuggets have been found in pre-Columbian Peru, Yucatan, and Guatemala.


The Greeks mined lead on a large scale from 650 onwards and not only knew how to obtain the metal but how to covert this to white lead. Because of its superb covering power, this was the basis of paints for more than 2000 years, until the middle of the last century.


The Romans employed lead on a large scale, mining it mainly in Spain and Britain, and using it also for water pipes, coffins, pewter tableware, and to debase their silver coinage. While its mining declined in the Dark Ages it reappeared in Medieval times and found new uses, such as pottery glazes, bullets, and printing type. In the last century it was a fuel additive.

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Podcasts

Listen to Lead Podcast
Transcript :

Chemistry in Its Element - Lead


  (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)

 

Chris Smith

 

Hello, this week we're sinking to new depths as we meet the metal that spawned the plumb line, a rock group, plumbing and even poisoning, not to mention a generation of alchemists who tried in vain to turn this substance into gold.   It is of course lead, and here to swing it for us is science writer Phil Ball. 

Phil Ball 

Lead is the Eeyore of metals - slow, dull and heavy. In its Latin form, plumbum, it enters our vocabulary by virtue of its soft and ponderous character: we once plumbed depths with a suspended grey blob of the stuff, emphatically commanded by gravity, while plumbers have long since traded their malleable lead pipes for plastic. Everything associated with lead tends towards over-burdened gloom: in the ancient scheme of metal symbolism, lead was linked to Saturn, the melancholy planet, personified by the old god also called Cronos who castrated his father and swallowed his children. Even the spark of glamour the metal gets from association with the world's greatest rock band stems from the Eeyorish prediction that they would sink like a lead balloon or zeppelin. 

Yes, lead is the original heavy metal, the most notorious offender in that toxic group. Lead damages the brain and the kidneys, it can cause anaemia and a form of gout with the doleful title of saturnine gout. Even the Romans knew about lead poisoning - the doctor Cornelius Celsus warned about the bad effects of lead white, used in paint and cosmetics, while the engineer Vitruvius recommended earthenware pipes over lead ones. Yet we were slow to learn. Lead white, a form of lead carbonate, remained the artist's best white pigment right up until the nineteenth century, when it was replaced by zinc white. As paint manufacture became industrialized, lead white spread sickness and death among factory workers: a report in the Transactions of the Royal Society in the seventeenth century listed vertigo, dizziness, blindness, stupidity and paralytic affections among the conditions it caused. 

And as late as in 2007 the toy manufacturer Mattel was forced to recall millions of toys made in China that had been coloured with lead paint. Meanwhile, a toxic trickle of lead from solder and the electrodes of batteries leaches slowly from landfill sites throughout the world. In 2006 the European Union effectively banned lead from most consumer electronics, but it remains in use elsewhere.   

To alchemists, lead was the lowliest of metals - in a sense, it was where all metals started. In talk of base metals, which alchemy tried to turn to silver and gold, there was none so base as lead. The alchemists believed that lead slowly matured into other metals in the ground. But alchemy also offered lead a chance to shake off its grey and graceless image. It does not take much to draw splendid colours out of lead. The ancient technologists blanched the dull metal by placing lead strips in pots with vinegar, and shutting them away in a shed full of animal dung. The vinegar fumes and gas from fermenting dung conspired to corrode lead into lead white. Heat this gently, and it turns yellow: a form of lead oxide known as litharge or, in the Middle Ages, massicot. Heat it some more, and it goes bright red, as you form a different kind of oxide. Both of these substances were used by artists - red lead was, for a long time, their finest red, used for painting many a bright robe in the Middle Ages. It was the signature colour of Saint Jerome. 

To the alchemists, those colour changes weren't just a way to make pigments. They signified some more profound alteration taking place in the metal, bringing it close to the colour of gold. It's no wonder, then, that their experiments often began with lead. They came no closer to making real gold, but they started to explore the processes of chemical transformation. 

Lead, however, seems habituated to revealing its true and dirty colours. Exposed to air, it may go on taking up oxygen until it turns black. Red lead has become chocolate brown on paintings throughout the world, from Japan to India to Switzerland. In urban galleries there is another danger, as the sulphurous fumes of pollution react with red lead to from black lead sulphide. There seems to be no getting away from it: lead has a glum and melancholy heart. 

Chris Smith

Phil Ball plumbing the depths of the scientific story of lead.   The next edition of Chemisty in its Element promises to be a record breaker. 

Mark Peplow 

 

You can learn a lot about someone by meeting their family and the same is true for the element. That's how we come to know so much about Astatine. Often trumpeted as the rarest naturally occurring element in the world, it's been estimated that the top kilometre of the earth's crust contains less than 50 mg of Astatine making it Guinness world record's rarest element.   

Chris Smith

And you can hear Mark Peplow telling the tale of the world's rarest chemical in next week's Chemistry in its Element.   I'm Chris Smith, thank you for listening, see you next time. 

(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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  Help Text

Resources

Description :
We discover how to extract lead from lead(II) oxide. We mix lead(II) oxide with charcoal powder and then heat the mixture using a Bunsen burner. It glows bright red as a reaction occurs and after a fe...
Description :
A sample of glass is made by heating a mixture of lead oxide, zinc oxide and boric acid strongly until it melts. The glass formed can be coloured by adding traces of various transition metal oxides.
Description :
An introduction to the common elements found in the Earth's crust. This can be used to underpin topics on useful materials from the Earth and on the extraction of metals.
Description :
Gives information about the most common elements in the Earth’s crust and the other the chemical composition of some minerals.
Description :
In each of the two experiments, illustrating the idea of competition between metals and carbon, students heat a metal oxide with powdered charcoal. If the carbon is more reactive than the metal it wi...
Description :
The halogens are elements of Group 7 of the Periodic table. This experiment illustrates some of the trends and similarities within the compounds of this group.
 

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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.