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Tellurium,  52Te
Metallic tellurium, diameter 3.5 cm
General properties
Name, symbol Tellurium, Te

silvery lustrous gray (crystalline),

brown-black powder (amorphous)
Tellurium in the periodic table


antimony ← Tellurium → iodine
Atomic number 52
Standard atomic weight (Ar) 127.6
Group, block , -block
Period period 4
Electron configuration [Kr] 4d10 5s2 5p4
per shell
2, 8, 18, 18, 6
Physical properties
Phase solid
Melting point 722.66 K ​(449.51 °C, ​​841.12 °F)
Boiling point 1261 K ​(988 °C, ​1810 °F)
Density near r.t. 6.24 g/cm3
when liquid, at  5.70 g/cm3
Heat of fusion 17.49 kJ/mol
Heat of 114.1 kJ/mol
Molar heat capacity 25.73 J/(mol·K)
Atomic properties
Oxidation states 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, −1, −2 ​a mildly acidic oxide
Electronegativity Pauling scale: 2.1
energies 1st: 869.3 kJ/mol
2nd: 1790 kJ/mol
3rd: 2698 kJ/mol
Atomic radius empirical: 140 pm
Covalent radius 138±4 pm
Van der Waals radius 206 pm
Crystal structure
Speed of sound thin rod 2610 m/s (at 20 °C)
Thermal expansion 18 µm/(m·K)
Thermal conductivity 1.97–3.38 W/(m·K)
Magnetic ordering diamagnetic
Mohs hardness 2.25
Brinell hardness 180–270 MPa
CAS Registry Number 13494-80-9
Naming after Roman Tellus, deity of the Earth
Discovery Franz-Joseph Müller von Reichenstein (1782)
First isolation Martin Heinrich Klaproth
· references
Tellurium is the element with symbol Te and atomic number 52.



It is usually found in -2, +2, +4 and +6 oxidation states. It has chemical properties similar to selenium, being dissolved by sulphuric and nitric acid and potassium hydroxide solutions but not in water. It corrodes copper, iron and stainless steel when it's molten. It reacts with oxygen in air, hydrogen and with halogens. It burns with a blueish grey flame. Although being mildly toxic, it is infamous for making you smell really bad so don´t handle it without correct safety equipment.


Tellurium is a whitish-silvery solid, crystalline element which has a nice, metallic luster. It's a brittle and easily powderized metalloid. It's a good semiconductor, and conductivity increases slightly when exposed to light. It melts at 450 ºC and boils at almost 1000 ºC.


Tellurium is one of the rarest stable elements on Earth's crust. Applications are scarce, most commonly used in electronics and solar panels. Prices are high and it has few uses for home chemists, in addition to collecting elements.


Tellurium can be prepared by reducing tellurium compounds.


  • Make tellurium dioxide
  • Make sodium tellurite



Wear appropriate protection when handling it or it's compounds. Certain compounds such as cadmium telluride are highly toxic.

When small amounts are ingested, tellurium and its compounds are metabolized to dimethyl telluride, causing a foul garlic-like odor named "tellurium breath".


Tellurium should be stored in closed containers.


It is best to try to recycle it.


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