Latin name Stannum, atomic number 50 … we are talking about tin. Read this ScienceStruck article for some interesting facts about tin.
Its Latin name ‘Stannum’ gave it the chemical symbol Sn. Carrying 50 protons and 50 electrons, it has an atomic number of 50. We know this element by the name tin. It is malleable and ductile, which means it can be molded into wires and flattened to make sheets. This silvery gray metal has many interesting facts about it.
Facts About Tin
Source – Cassiterite
Cassiterite serves as the source of tin. Reduction of cassiterite with burning coal gives the tin metal. In the ancient times, this chemical process of reduction possibly produced tin.
- Tin is highly crystalline in nature. A tin crystal is tetragonal in structure. A sound called ‘tin cry’ is heard on bending a bar of tin.
- At normal temperatures, tin is malleable but acquires brittleness when cooled.
- Tin resists the corrosion from water. But strong acids and alkalis corrode it. It bonds well with iron.
- It forms a dioxide when heated in air and a stennate salt is formed with basic oxides. With a solution containing oxygen, tin catalyzes the reaction and accelerates it.
- Tin directly combines with chlorine to form a salt called stannous chloride. Stannous chloride is used as a mordant and a reducing agent.
- Tin forms an alloy with lead. The alloy is called spotted metal. Lead cools a little earlier giving the surface a dappled effect. This phenomenon gave the alloy its name. Another important alloy of tin is the one with copper. It is bronze.
- Gray tin, white tin, and brittle tin are the allotropes of this metal.
Below 13.2 degrees C, tin transforms into gray tin, which is powdery. Organ pipes in European cathedrals first showed this change in the form of a growth on them. It was believed that some devils caused the change. Microorganisms were thought to have caused it and it was known as the ‘tin disease’. The transformation of tin to gray tin is believed to have caused disintegration of the buttons of soldiers’ uniforms during Napoleon’s Russian Campaign in 1812 due to the chilled weather then.
Below 3.72 K, tin behaves as a superconductor. Meissner Effect that is commonly observed in superconductors was first discovered in tin crystals.
Tin mining had begun in Europe during the classical era. The metal began to be used from 600 B.C. By 2007, the People’s Republic of China became the largest producer of tin. Peru and Indonesia were next in order in the list of tin producers. Tasmania has some historically important deposits of tin like Mount Bischoff. Around 35 nations mine tin.
- Tin’s heat of fusion and heat of vaporization are 7.03 and 296.1 kilojoules per mole respectively.
- Tin melts at 505.08 K and boils at 2875 K.
- The atomic mass of tin is 118.71 amu. It density is 7.31 g/cc.
- Tin is used to coat metals to prevent them from corrosion.
- Many alloys of tin find uses in various areas.
- Tin-niobium alloy has superconductivity. It is used in constructing superconductive magnets that generate high field strengths without consuming much power.
- Unalloyed tin is used as a lining material in distillation plants as it is chemically inert to pure water.
- To increase its hardness and tensile strength, it is alloyed with copper and antimony and used as a bearing material.
- Tin and tin chemicals are largely used in electroplating.
- It is used in the manufacture of tin-plate, which is a steel sheet coated with tin. This contributes to 40% of the tin consumption of the world.
- Tin finds applications in coating lead or zinc to protect them from corrosion. Steel containers that are used for preserving food are often plated with tin.
- In the earlier days, tin foils were used for wrapping foods. Today, aluminum foils have replaced them.
- Tin salts are sprayed on glass to produce electrically conductive coatings.
So, these were some interesting facts about stannum. Thanks for spending some ‘tin-time’ with us to explore the ‘tin-area’ of chemistry.