Is Gallium a Metal, Nonmetal or Metalloid (Any Why?)

Gallium is a metal. It belongs to the group of metals called post-transition metals, which are located in the center of the periodic table. Like other metals, gallium is solid at room temperature, has a metallic luster, and is a good conductor of electricity and heat. 1

Well, this was just a simple answer. But there are few more things to know about this topic which will make your concept super clear.

So let’s dive right into it.

Key Takeaways: Is Gallium a Metal, Nonmetal or a Metalloid?

  • Gallium is a metal because it has the characteristics of a metal, such as being shiny, ductile, malleable, and a good conductor of both electricity and heat.
  • Gallium is different from other metals in several ways, such as its low melting point, reactivity, non-toxicity, and softness.
  • Gallium is a valuable and versatile material with a range of applications in various fields, such as low-temperature thermometers, electronics, and aerospace.

Explanation: Why is gallium a metal?

Gallium is a metal because it has the characteristics of a metal. Metals are typically defined as elements that are shiny, ductile, malleable, and good conductors of both electricity and heat. Gallium possesses all of these characteristics.

Gallium is a silvery-white metal that is very soft and can be easily cut with a knife. It has a low melting point of 29.76 °C, which means it can melt in the palm of your hand. 2

Gallium is also ductile, which means it can be drawn into wires, and malleable, which means it can be easily shaped.

In addition, gallium is a good conductor of both electricity and heat. 3

Gallium is also used as a component in many alloys, which are mixtures of metals that often have unique properties. 4 5

Overall, the physical and chemical properties of gallium are consistent with those of metals, and this is why it is classified as a metal.

Properties of gallium that classify it as a metal

Here are some properties of gallium that classify it as a metal.

  • Shiny: Gallium has a metallic luster, meaning it is shiny when polished or freshly cut. Metals generally have a shiny appearance due to their ability to reflect light.
  • Ductile: Gallium can be drawn into thin wires without breaking. Metals are typically ductile, which is a result of the ability of their atoms to slide past one another under stress.
  • Malleable: Gallium can be easily hammered into thin sheets without breaking. This property is also a result of the ability of metal atoms to move past one another when subjected to pressure.
  • Good conductor of electricity: Gallium has a high electrical conductivity, which means that it can readily conduct electricity. 6 This property is due to the presence of free electrons in the metal structure that are able to move and carry electric charge.
  • Good conductor of heat: Gallium is also a good conductor of heat, meaning that it can easily transfer thermal energy. This property is due to the presence of free electrons that can carry thermal energy throughout the metal. 7

Overall, these properties are all characteristic of metals, which is why gallium is classified as a metal.

How is gallium different from other metals?

There are several ways in which gallium is different from other metals. Here are a few examples:

  • Low melting point: Gallium has a very low melting point of 29.76 °C, which is lower than that of any other metal. This means that gallium can melt in your hand and has unique applications in low-temperature thermometers and other technologies. 8 9
  • Reactivity: Gallium is less reactive than most other metals and does not easily corrode in air or water. This is because it forms a thin oxide layer on its surface that protects it from further oxidation. 10
  • Non-toxic: Unlike many other metals, gallium is not toxic and has no known biological function in humans or other living organisms. This makes it safe to handle and use in various applications. 11
  • Softness: Gallium is very soft and can be easily scratched or dented. This means that it is not suitable for structural applications where strength is important, but has unique properties for other applications, such as being used as a mold for precision castings.

Overall, gallium’s unique physical and chemical properties set it apart from other metals and give it distinct properties that are valuable in various applications.

Further reading

Is Arsenic a Metal, Nonmetal or Metalloid?
Is Selenium a Metal or Nonmetal?
Is Bromine a Metal or Nonmetal?
Why is Krypton a Noble Gas?
Is Krypton a Metal or Nonmetal? 

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Jay is an educator and has helped more than 100,000 students in their studies by providing simple and easy explanations on different science-related topics. He is a founder of Pediabay and is passionate about helping students through his easily digestible explanations.

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  1. Gallium – Element information, properties and uses | Periodic Table. (n.d.). Gallium – Element Information, Properties and Uses | Periodic Table.
  2. It’s Elemental – The Element Gallium. (n.d.). It’s Elemental – the Element Gallium.
  3. Briggs, L. J. (1957, April 1). Gallium: Thermal Conductivity; Supercooling; Negative Pressure. AIP Publishing.
  4. Microfluidic platforms for gallium-based liquid metal alloy. (2014, January 1). NASA/ADS. . .. . …28K/abstract
  5. Fabrication methods and applications of microstructured gallium based liquid metal alloys. (n.d.). NASA/ADS.
  6. The electrical resistivity of gallium and some other anisotropic properties of this metal. (1951, November 22). Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Series a. Mathematical and Physical Sciences, 209(1099), 525–541.
  7. Moskalyk, R. (2003, October). Gallium: the backbone of the electronics industry. Minerals Engineering, 16(10), 921–929.
  8. Gallium. (n.d.). Gallium.
  10. Gallium | Uses, Properties, & Facts. (n.d.). Encyclopedia Britannica.
  11. Gallium – Wikipedia. (2009, July 7). Gallium – Wikipedia.

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