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The 6 Alloy Families: Gallium

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  • Eric Bastow: Today we're going to be talking about this really cool metal called gallium. It's very unique, because it has a low melting point, and melts at 30 degrees C or 86 degrees Fahrenheit. It's so low that even human body heat – you can hold this in your hand – it'll actually melt the metal. Actually, somebody's done that, so, that, what was a bunch of little pellets, are now all stuck together.
    It is unique in that it can be alloyed with things like tin, indium, and zinc, and you can make liquid metals with it. Those liquid metals are very useful, because the other standing liquid metal that people are familiar with is mercury. These liquid alloys that gallium forms are much less toxic, and they have a much lower vapor pressure than mercury does.
    As you can see here, one of the things that's also unique about gallium, and the alloys of gallium, is that it will wet some non-metallic surfaces like glass, and, as a result, it has very good thermal and electrical conductivity in and of itself as a material, but because in liquid form it makes such good contact, almost 100% contact area when it's against a surface, that even amplifies the thermal and electrical conductivity properties that it has. 
    It does react with aluminum and copper. It will literally dissolve them. Obviously that's not a good thing, or, it could be an undesirable thing about it.
    You can actually go on YouTube, and there's a video where somebody has taken one of the liquid alloys of gallium and they have put it on an aluminum soda can. You can literally watch, through time-lapse video, as it soaks into the aluminum. It disrupts the structure of the aluminum can, and, at the end of it, you can see the person actually take it and rip it apart like tissue paper. Gallium is really cool stuff. If you want more information about it, please contact us; send us an email at


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