Skip to content


Оцініть статтю/Rate the article

Tungsten, symbol W on the periodic table, is a chemical element known for its unique properties.


Physical properties

Physical properties of tungsten:

  1. Appearance: Tungsten is a lustrous, silver-gray metal with a metallic shine. It has a solid and dense appearance.
  2. State: Tungsten is a solid at room temperature and standard atmospheric pressure.
  3. Crystal Structure: Tungsten has a body-centered cubic crystal structure, which means its atoms are arranged in a specific pattern within the solid.
  4. Malleability and Ductility: Tungsten is a relatively brittle metal and is not very malleable or ductile. It is difficult to deform or shape without the addition of other elements or processes such as powder metallurgy.
  5. Color Retention: Tungsten has excellent color retention properties, meaning it retains its metallic silver-gray appearance even at high temperatures.
  6. Magnetic Properties: Tungsten is not strongly magnetic. It is considered to have a weak magnetic response.
  7. Reflectivity: Tungsten has a high reflectivity for both visible and infrared light. It can efficiently reflect light and thermal radiation, making it useful for applications such as reflectors and high-temperature lamps.
  8. Sound Conduction: Tungsten has good sound conduction properties due to its high density. It can efficiently transmit sound waves.

These physical properties contribute to the unique characteristics and wide range of applications for tungsten in various industries, including aerospace, electrical, automotive, and more.

Сhemical properties of tungsten

  1. Reactivity: Tungsten is a relatively unreactive metal and does not readily react with most common acids, bases, or oxidizing agents at room temperature. It is resistant to corrosion and maintains its integrity in many harsh chemical environments.
  2. Oxidation: Tungsten can form oxides when exposed to oxygen. At high temperatures, it reacts with oxygen to form tungsten oxide (WO3). Tungsten oxide can exist in different stoichiometric forms, such as WO2 and WO2.72.
  3. Complex Formation: Tungsten can form stable complexes with various ligands due to its ability to exhibit multiple oxidation states. These complexes find applications in catalysis and coordination chemistry.
  4. Solubility: Tungsten metal is insoluble in water and most common solvents. However, tungsten compounds, such as tungsten oxides and tungstates, may have varying solubilities depending on the specific compound and solvent conditions.
  5. Reaction with Halogens: Tungsten reacts with halogens (fluorine, chlorine, bromine, iodine) to form tungsten halides. For example, it reacts with chlorine gas to form tungsten hexachloride (WCl6).
  6. Alloy Formation: Tungsten forms alloys with various elements, including steel, nickel, and copper. These alloys exhibit improved strength, hardness, and other desirable properties for specific applications.
  7. Redox Reactions: Tungsten can undergo redox reactions, meaning it can change oxidation states by gaining or losing electrons. Tungsten commonly exhibits oxidation states of +2, +4, and +6 in its compounds.

It’s important to note that the chemical properties of tungsten can vary depending on the specific compound or reaction conditions. These properties contribute to the diverse range of applications for tungsten in areas such as catalysis, electronics, lighting, and high-temperature applications.

Tungsten isotopes

Tungsten (symbol W) has several isotopes, which are atoms of the same element with different numbers of neutrons in their nuclei.

The most common isotopes of tungsten are:

  1. Tungsten-182 (182W): This is the most abundant isotope of tungsten, accounting for approximately 26.5% of naturally occurring tungsten. It has 74 protons, 108 neutrons, and a natural abundance of 26.5%.
  2. Tungsten-184 (184W): This is the second most abundant isotope of tungsten, comprising approximately 30.6% of naturally occurring tungsten. It has 74 protons, 110 neutrons, and a natural abundance of 30.6%.
  3. Tungsten-183 (183W): This isotope of tungsten has 74 protons and 109 neutrons. It is a radioactive isotope with a half-life of about 14.3 billion years, making it weakly radioactive but still present in measurable amounts in nature.
  4. Tungsten-186 (186W): This isotope has 74 protons and 112 neutrons. It is a radioactive isotope with a half-life of about 2.1 billion years. It is relatively rare and accounts for only about 1.6% of naturally occurring tungsten.

In addition to these four stable or long-lived isotopes, tungsten has several other isotopes, such as tungsten-180, tungsten-181, tungsten-185, and tungsten-187, but they occur in very small quantities or are highly radioactive with short half-lives.

These isotopes of tungsten are used in various applications, including radiometric dating, isotopic tracing in geological and environmental studies, and nuclear research.

Tungsten application

Tungsten, due to its unique properties, finds applications in various industries. Some notable applications of tungsten include:

  1. Filaments for Incandescent Bulbs: Tungsten has a very high melting point and excellent heat resistance, making it ideal for use in incandescent light bulbs. The tungsten filament is heated to high temperatures, emitting visible light when heated by an electric current.
  2. Electrical Contacts and Electrodes: Tungsten is widely used in electrical applications, such as electrical contacts and electrodes. Its high melting point, low electrical resistance, and excellent thermal conductivity make it suitable for use in high-temperature environments, arc welding, and electrical discharge machining (EDM).
  3. Alloying: Tungsten is often alloyed with other metals to create materials with enhanced properties. Tungsten alloys, such as tungsten steel, are known for their exceptional strength, hardness, and resistance to wear and corrosion. These alloys are used in various applications, including aerospace components, high-speed cutting tools, and radiation shielding.
  4. X-ray and Radiation Shielding: Tungsten has high density and excellent radiation absorption properties, making it an ideal material for X-ray and radiation shielding. It is used in medical imaging equipment, radiation therapy, nuclear power plants, and other applications where radiation protection is required.
  5. Heating Elements and Furnaces: Tungsten’s high melting point and resistance to oxidation make it suitable for heating elements in high-temperature furnaces and industrial applications that require heating in controlled environments.
  6. Aerospace and Defense: Tungsten alloys are used in aerospace and defense applications, including aircraft and missile components, armor-piercing ammunition, and counterweights for aircraft control surfaces.
  7. Catalysts: Tungsten compounds, such as tungsten oxides, are used as catalysts in various chemical reactions. They are employed in the petroleum industry, chemical synthesis, and the production of fine chemicals.
  8. Jewelry and Fashion Accessories: Tungsten carbide, a compound of tungsten, is used in the manufacturing of durable and scratch-resistant jewelry, such as wedding bands and watches.

These are just a few examples of the many applications of tungsten across different industries. Its unique combination of properties makes it a valuable material for a wide range of technological and industrial purposes.