RARE METAL TANTALUM (Syllabus: GS Paper 3 – Sci and Tech)

News-CRUX-10     22nd November 2023        

Context: Recently, researchers from IIT Ropar discovered the presence of tantalum, a rare metal, in the sand of the Sutlej River in Punjab.

  • According to experts, the presence of tantalum is significant not only for Punjab, but also India, as the metal is widely used in electronics and semiconductors.


  • About: Tantalum is a rare metal with the atomic number 73 - the number of protons found in one atom of the element. 
  • Physical Features: It's grey, heavy, very hard, and one of the most corrosion resistant metals in use today. 

oIt possesses high corrosion resistance because when exposed to air, it forms an oxide layer that is extremely difficult to remove, even when it interacts with strong and hot acid environments.

  • Notably, tantalum also has an extremely high melting point, exceeded only by tung- sten and rhenium.
  • Discovered by: Anders Gustaf Ekenberg, a Swedish chemist, in 1802 in minerals obtained from Ytterby, Sweden.
  • Name: The rare metal has been named after the Greek mythological figure Tantalus-the rich but wicked king of a town above Mount Sipylus in Anatolia.
  • Uses: Tantalum is most prominently used in the electronic sector. Use in portable electronic devices such as smartphones, laptops, and digital cameras.