Applications of Tantalum Metal in Medical Field

As a kind of biomedical material, the metal material is widely used in clinical medicine because of its high suitability for mechanical properties and fatigue resistance and is suitable for the implantation of bearing parts. However, the development of metal materials in the medical field is limited by the corrosion of materials in the human body. In recent years, tantalum metal has attracted more and more attention from medical and materials workers due to its unique advantages such as excellent corrosion resistance and biocompatibility.

Many kinds of metal materials, such as stainless steel, titanium base, and cobalt base alloy, have been widely used in the clinic and have achieved a certain therapeutic effect. However, the complex human body environment may cause the corrosion of materials and lead to the release of toxic substances, which greatly reduces the biocompatibility of metal materials. In addition, the elastic modulus of some metal materials is too different from the human bone tissue, which is not conducive to the growth and remodeling of new bone and easy to lead to secondary fracture. These adverse conditions limit the application of metal materials as biomedical materials. Tantalum, also a metal material, is attracting more and more medical workers and materials researchers with its unique advantages.

Tantalum

Good corrosion resistance

At room temperature, tantalum does not react with hydrochloric acid, concentrated nitric acid or even aqua regia, and ordinary inorganic salts cannot corrode it.

Good biocompatibility

Unlike conventional medical metal materials, biological tissue grows on tantalum after a period of implantation, just as it grows on real bones. Therefore, tantalum is also known as “Biophilic Metal”

Appropriate modulus of elasticity

The elastic modulus of tantalum with special pore structure is between human cancellous bone and cortical bone, which is especially suitable for bone replacement, joint replacement, and human tissue filling.

Tantalum metal is very safe, and insoluble tantalum salt is not absorbed by the human body through oral or local injection; soluble tantalum salt is also absorbed very little by the gastrointestinal tract. Once tantalum enters the body, the main carrier responsible for removing tantalum is phagocyte. After the exposure to tantalum dust for 1 hour, all phagocytes in the body can survive and have no cellular degeneration, with the only significant increase in glucose oxidation. Under the same conditions, silica dust can cause severe cytoplasmic degeneration and death of phagocytes, indicating that tantalum is not cytotoxic.

In 1940, pure tantalum metal was first used in medical treatment, and most reports believe that tantalum as a human implant did not find any adverse reactions. The application of tantalum metal mainly focuses on the use of porous tantalum, which is a honeycomb three-dimensional structure with characteristics of the human cancellous bone structure, and the average pore size of which is 430 μm and the porosity is 75%~80%. Porous tantalum can be made into various specifications and shapes. For example, porous tantalum rods can be used for the treatment of early ischemic necrosis of femoral head; the combination of porous tantalum and human bone is firm, so tantalum can also be used in the preparation of artificial joints; the porous tantalum can also be used as filling material for all parts of the human body, such as tissue reconstruction after tumor resection, dissolving and filling of neck and lumbar, and vertebral arch replacement.

Stanford Advanced Materials supplies high-quality tantalum and related products to meet our customers’ R&D and production needs. Please visit http://www.samaterials.com for more information.

What are the Main Properties of Tantalum and Niobium Materials?

Rare metal material technology is one of the most important subjects in the field of material science and engineering in the new century, as well as a key material for the development of high and new technology, and tantalum and niobium play an important role in this field. The development of modern high technology such as information technology, new energy technology, space technology, biotechnology, and superconductivity is closely related to rare metal materials, especially tantalum and niobium.

Main products and performance

At present, the main products used in tantalum niobium industry include tantalum powder, tantalum wire, tantalum carbide, tantalum and its alloy ingots, tantalum and its alloy processing materials, tantalum target materials, tantalum oxide, lithium tantalite; niobium powder, niobium rod, niobium foil, and its alloy ingots, niobium and its alloy additives, niobium oxide, niobium tube, lithium niobate, niobium and its alloy superconducting materials, etc.

tantalum capacitors

Tantalum powder and tantalum wire are the key materials for making tantalum capacitors, which are widely used in mobile phones, computers, digital products, automobiles, aerospace electronics and other fields. About 60 percent of the world’s tantalum is used to make tantalum capacitors. Tantalum and niobium target materials are used in semiconductor devices and liquid crystal display technologies, and niobium oxide, niobium powder, and niobium wire are used in making ceramic and niobium capacitors. About 90% of the world’s niobium is used in the steel industry, and niobium wire is mainly used in the production of high-strength low-alloy steel, stainless steel, heat-resistant steel, clearance steel, carbon steel, tool steel, rail steel, casting steel.

Superalloys can be produced by adding tantalum or niobium to tungsten, molybdenum, nickel, cobalt, vanadium, ferroalloys or by using tantalum and niobium as bases, which are important structural materials for aerospace engines, ground-based air turbine engines, modern weapons, and harsh industrial environment facilities. Because of the good superconductivity of niobium and tantalum metal, the addition of niobium and tantalum into the materials used to make wires and cables can greatly reduce the loss of power and thus save power. Tantalum and niobium are excellent materials for acid and liquid metal corrosion resistance, so they can be used in the chemical industry for digesters, heaters, coolers, and various device containers. Besides that, tantalum and niobium metals and their alloys can also be used as reactor shell materials and high-energy physics superconducting devices.

superconducting devices

Industry’s outlook

With the development of high and new technology in the world, such as electronics, metallurgy, aerospace, and aviation, the international market demands for the smelting and processing of rare metals such as tantalum powder and tantalum wire, tantalum niobium crystal materials and niobium alloy are increasing day by day. Currently, major tantalum and niobium metal smelters and processing industries around the world are carrying out global economic integration, and actively exploring the market to improve the market share.

Stanford Advanced Materials supplies high-quality tantalum and niobium products to meet our customers’ R&D and production needs. Please visit http://www.samaterials.com for more information.

How do tantalum products work in modern industry?

Capacitor tantalum powder

Tantalum electrolytic capacitor is an electronic device that takes tantalum as a metal anode and generates dielectric oxide film on tantalum surface by anodic oxidation. The most important difference between tantalum capacitors and other types of capacitors is the quality of the tantalum oxide dielectric film, which has high dielectric constant and breakdown voltage. Generally speaking, the higher the purity of tantalum powder, the higher the breakdown voltage of the tantalum capacitor anode film. The tantalum powder has a high specific surface area, which can be remained even after compaction and sintering due to its special pore structure.

Tantalum Powder

Apart from the tantalum powder, tantalum foil is also used in foil capacitors, and tantalum wire is used as capacitor anode lead. In 2000, the annual output of tantalum capacitors reached 25 billion tons, requiring 800 tons of tantalum powder and nearly 150 tons of tantalum wire. Excellent performance such as high reliability and compactness, high efficiency and long shelving time make tantalum capacitors be used in the instrument and control system of computer, communication system, aircraft, missile, ship, and weapon system.

Tantalum and its alloys

The alloying of tantalum or tantalum-based alloy is usually carried out in the electron beam furnace. In order to obtain the ingot with uniform composition, vacuum arc remelting (VAR) is required after the smelting and purification in the electron beam furnace. All tantalum and tantalum alloy products are processed by electronic beam casting, and the use of vacuum arc remelting depends on the use of the product.

Tantalum alloy has the lowest ductile-brittle transition temperature, good low temperature ductile, small work hardening coefficient and excellent high-temperature strength, which is an ideal structural material for working under 1600-1800 ℃. At present, Ta-W and Ta-Nb alloy materials are mainly used in the manufacture of aerospace industry and space nuclear power system components.

Tantalum alloys

Other applications of tantalum

At present, global annual consumption of tantalum is about 900 tons. The electronics industry is the largest and most promising application of tantalum, accounting for an estimated 66% of total consumption; the second application of tantalum is in the cutting tool industry, which accounts for 22 per cent of total consumption; tantalum, as a superalloy high temperature strengthening additive, accounts for 6% of the total consumption; tantalum and tantalum alloy account for 3% of total consumption in valves, heat exchangers and plug-in heaters of chemical industries. As a biological material, tantalum is highly compatible with body fluids. In thoracic surgery, tantalum U nail is used to close vessels and arteries without the allergic reaction, and medical fields such as holes used to seal the skull during craniotomy account for about 1% of tantalum use. The other 2% of tantalum is used for military purposes.

Stanford Advanced Materials supplies high-quality tantalum products to meet our customers’ R&D and production needs. Please visit http://www.samaterials.com for more information.

Overview of the Metal Tantalum

Tantalum is a kind of refractory nonferrous metal with a hardness of 6-6.5. Its melting point can reach 2996 ℃, which is second only to tungsten and rhenium. Tantalum is malleable and can be drawn into thin foil, and it has a very small coefficient of thermal expansion, which is only 0.6 percent for every degree rise.

Tantalum also has excellent chemical properties and is highly resistant to corrosion. Tantalum does not react with hydrochloric acid, concentrated nitric acid and aqua regia under both cold and hot conditions. The experiments showed that tantalum did not react with the alkali solution, chlorine gas, bromine water, dilute sulfuric acid and many other agents at room temperature, but only with hydrofluoric acid and hot concentrated sulfuric acid, which is relatively rare in metals.

Tantalum

Tantalum has a wide range of applications due to its excellent performances. For example, tantalum can be used as a substitute for stainless steel in the production of various inorganic acids. Besides that, tantalum can replace tasks that used to be undertaken by precious metal platinum in chemical, electronic, electrical and other industries, thus greatly reducing the cost. Tantalum is manufactured into capacitor equipment for military use, and half of the world’s production of tantalum is used in tantalum capacitors. America’s military industry is unusually advanced, and it is the world’s largest arms exporter. The Defense Logistics Agency, the largest owner of tantalum, once bought a third of the world’s tantalum powder.

Tantalum is a kind of stable anodic oxide film in the acidic electrolyte. The electrolytic capacitor made of tantalum has the advantages of large capacity, small volume, and good reliability. Capacitor making is the most important use of tantalum, and the consumption of tantalum accounts for more than 2/3 at the end of the 1970s. Tantalum is also used to make electronic transmitter tubes and high-power tube parts. Moreover, Tantalum metal can be used as the structure of the combustor of the aircraft engine.

Tantalum and its alloys are widely used in all walks of life. Tantalum and tantalum-hafnium alloys are often used as heat-resistant, high-strength materials for rockets, missiles, and jet engines, as well as components for control and adjustment equipment. Tantalum is easy to be processed and shaped, so it is used as supporting accessories, heat shield, heater and radiator in the high-temperature vacuum furnace. Tantalum carbide is used to make cemented carbide. Boride, silicified and nitride alloys of tantalum are used as heat release elements and liquid metal sheathing materials in the nuclear industry. Tantalum oxide is used in the manufacture of advanced optical glass and catalysts. In 1981, tantalum was consumed by about 73% of electronic components, 19% of the machinery industry, 6% of transportation, and 2% of the rest.

Stanford Advanced Materials supplies high-quality tantalum products to meet our customers’ R&D and production needs. Please visit http://www.samaterials.com for more information.