31Ga Gallium

Year Discovered


Discovered By

Paul-Emile Lecoq de Boisbaudran of France

Biological Rating

Not necessary for life.


Named from the Latin word for France, gallium is a soft silvery metal with many unusual properties. It is stable in air and water but reacts with acids and alkalis. It has a very low melting point; if gallium is held in one’s hand, it will melt. Gallium also is a liquid over a greater temperature range than any other element. Gallium is one of the few substances that expands as it freezes, making solid gallium less dense than liquid gallium (water is another substance that possesses this property). Gallium has a very high boiling point, making it useful for high temperature thermometers. It is also used in mirror making and alloys with other metals. There are two solar neutrino experiments that use a total of 90 tons of gallium to detect the elusive neutrino particles. Some gallium compounds have semiconductor characteristics and are used in LEDs and transistors. A gallium-arsenic compound (gallium arsenide) can convert electricity directly into laser light. Biological Rating No known benefits to life processes.

Biological Benefits

No known benefits to life processes.


Gallium rarely occurs in minerals except in trace amounts. Bauxite and the mineral sphalerite, as well as coal, often contain gallium as an impurity. No gallium is mined; it is obtained as a by-product of mining and processing other metals, notably aluminum, zinc and copper, and is produced in any nation that produces these metals. Gallite is a common gallium-bearing mineral.