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Periodic Table

Chemistry In Pictures

Chemistry in Pictures: Gallium gets a close-up

by Manny I. Fox Morone
June 12, 2024


About 20 shiny droplets of liquid gallium can be seen at 40 times magnification through the scope of a dissection microscope and a purple filter.
Credit: David Kiely

Sometimes elements in their pure forms are beautiful; take liquid bismuth, crystalline iodine, or branching copper dendrites as examples. David Kiely, an undergrad at Middle Tennessee State University, thinks gallium doesn’t get enough love. He bought a small amount of gallium after he read Sam Kean’s book The Disappearing Spoon and has been messing around with the metal ever since. Gallium straddles the boundary of liquid and solid at ambient temperatures, and it will slowly melt as it sits in the palm of a warm hand. To take this photo, Kiely simply poured some hot water over a chunk of the metal. It soon formed this network of shimmering liquid droplets, which he watched using a microscope 40× magnification. Blue and red filters placed in front of the microscope’s lens create the purple color.

Submitted by David Kiely. See more of his photos at Middle Tennessee State University’s Instagram page, @MTSUChemistry.

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