Overview of Tantalum’s Main Products & Applications

Tantalum has a series of excellent properties such as high melting point, low vapor pressure, good cold workability, high chemical stability, strong resistance to liquid metal corrosion, and large dielectric constant of the surface oxide film. Therefore, tantalum is mainly used in high-tech fields such as electronics, metallurgy, steel, chemicals, hard alloys, atomic energy, superconducting technology, automotive electronics, aerospace, medical health and scientific research.

50% -70% of tantalum in the world is used to make tantalum capacitors in the form of capacitor-grade tantalum powder and tantalum wire. The surface of tantalum can form a dense and stable amorphous oxide film with high dielectric strength, which is easy to accurately and conveniently control the capacitor’s anodizing process. Tantalum powder sintered blocks can obtain a large surface area in a small volume, so tantalum capacitors have high capacitance, low leakage current, low equivalent series resistance, good high and low temperature characteristics, long service life, and excellent comprehensive performance. Tantalum capacitors are widely used in industrial and scientific and technological sectors such as communications (exchanges, mobile phones, pagers, fax machines, etc.), computers, automobiles, home and office appliances, instrumentation, aerospace, defense and military.

tantalum-capacitors

Tantalum is an extremely versatile functional material. The following are the main products and applications of tantalum.

Tantalum carbide

Application: Cutting tools

Properties: Tantalum carbide is easy to form at high temperature to avoid texture

Tantalum lithium

Application areas: surface acoustic waves, mobile phone filters, hi-fi and TV

Properties: strengthen the electronic signal wave, output more clear audio and video

Tantalum oxide

Applications: Lenses for telescopes, cameras and mobile phones, X-ray films, inkjet printers

Properties: Adjust the refractive index of optical glass, reduce X-ray exposure, improve image quality, and improve the wear resistance of integrated capacitors in integrated circuits

Tantalum powder

Applications: Tantalum capacitors in electronic circuits, medical devices, automotive parts such as ABS, airbag activation, engine management modules, GPS, portable electronics such as laptops, mobile phones, other devices such as flat-screen TVs, battery chargers, power diodes , Oil well probe, mobile phone signal shielding mast

Properties: high reliability, low failure rate, strong electronic storage capacity, it can withstand low temperature such as -55 ℃ and high temperature + 220 ℃, as well as severe vibration forces

Tantalum plate

Applications: Chemical reaction equipment such as coatings, valves, internal heat exchangers, cathodic protection systems for steel structures, water tanks, corrosion-resistant fasteners such as screws, nuts and bolts

Properties: excellent corrosion resistance

Tantalum wire and tantalum rod

Applications: Tantalum wire and tantalum rod are used to repair hip joints, skull plates, bones after receiving tumor damage, suture clips, stent blood vessels

Properties: strong biological compatibility

Tantalum-artificial-joint

Tantalum wire and tantalum rod

Application: High temperature furnace parts

Properties: Melting point is as high as 2996 ℃ (but vacuum protection is required)

Tantalum Disc

Application: sputtering target

Properties: thin layer of tantalum, tantalum nitride coating oxide or semiconductor prevents copper migration

Tantalum ingot

Application: Super alloys such as jet engine vortex discs (such as blades)

Properties: The alloy composition contains 3~11% tantalum provides corrosion-resistant hot gas and allows higher operating temperature

Tantalum ingot

Application: Computer hardware driver CD

Properties: An alloy containing 6% of tantalum has shape memory properties

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

How is Tantalum Used in Waste Acid Recovery Equipment?

In the atmosphere or aqueous solution, the surface of the tantalum material will immediately form a very dense oxide film, which has a very good protective effect on the tantalum matrix, so that tantalum has extremely excellent corrosion resistance. The corrosion resistance of tantalum is similar to that of glass. Except for hydrofluoric acid, fuming sulfur trioxide and concentrated sulfuric acid, concentrated phosphoric acid and alkali at high temperature (above 180 ℃), tantalum is stable to other acids (hydrochloric acid, sulfuric acid, nitric acid, phosphoric acid) and aqua regia (reaction rate is less than 0.01 mm/a).

Tantalum has important uses in the chemical industry and is an ideal material for the manufacture of waste acid recovery equipment, but the expensive price restricts the scale development of tantalum in the anti-corrosion industry.

tantaline

Adding 2.5% tungsten to tantalum to form Ta2.5W alloy will not weaken its corrosion resistance, nor increase its density too much, but it can increase its strength. Therefore, it is possible to further roll thin-walled pipes, which can greatly reduce costs in the field of the anti-corrosion industry, and further promote the application of tantalum waste acid recovery equipment.

The development history of tantalum equipment

As early as the 1940s, developed countries already used tantalum to make waste acid treatment equipment. Tantalum is the material of choice for equipment that can handle acids other than hydrofluoric acid, so tantalum plays a significant role in industries that generate large amounts of waste acid. Countries around the world are studying the use of tantalum’s good processability and super corrosion resistance to process waste acid recovery equipment. In the 1930s and 1940s, the United States manufactured tantalum equipment and obtained important applications in the acid industry. For example, DuPont of the United States has become one of the world’s largest tantalum equipment companies, Astro Metallurgy of the United States, BSL of France, and COMETIC of Germany have also become powerful international tantalum equipment manufacturing companies.

Tantalum waste acid recovery equipment

The exterior of the tantalum waste acid recovery equipment is made of stainless steel as a load-bearing structure; it is lined with tantalum or tantalum 2.5 tungsten plate to resist acid corrosion; it’s inside is a device made of tantalum tube for heating or heat exchange device.

Acid-recovery
Acid-recovery

Process of waste acid recovery

The continuous concentrated distillation process is used to recover the waste acid. The liquid enters from the back-extracted liquid inlet, and then is preheated in the second-effect chamber by gaseous water vapor and acid volatilized steam, then enters the vaporization chamber for further heating, and then enters the evaporation chamber and is coiled. Heated by the heater, the acid and water vapor enters the second-effect chamber through the vaporization chamber, the fractionation chamber, and the connecting pipe. After the second-effect chamber is initially cooled, it enters the condensation chamber to condense into usable acid. Tantalum waste acid recovery equipment is used in the rare earth industry or acid regeneration industry. Because the recovery process of rare earth and waste acid uses a fully closed system and is a full physical process, the degree of recovery of rare earth and acid is high.

Advantages of tantalum equipment

Reasonable price evaluation is a prerequisite for the promotion and application of tantalum waste acid recovery equipment. The evaluation of economics should not only consider the original manufacturing cost but also take into account post-maintenance maintenance, spare parts, and corresponding labor costs and loss of production, etc. Comparing to various aspects, tantalum waste acid recovery equipment has the irreplaceable advantages of other metals and non-metals in the recovery and reuse of rare earth and waste acid.

Waste acid recovery equipment made of tantalum plate and tantalum tube has a long service life and low maintenance costs for long-term use. The tantalum waste acid recovery equipment has a good process connection, which comprehensively solves the problems of salt recovery, acid regeneration, and continuous production. It can make full use of the waste heat of recycled materials, and it has an obvious energy-saving effect and good economic benefits.

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

What is the Trend of Ta & Nb Market?

The atomic sequences of tantalum (Ta) and niobium (Nb) are 73 and 41, respectively, both of which are located in the VB family of excessive elements. They are often symbiotic in nature and are important refractory rare metals. They look like steel, off-white luster, and the powder is dark gray. They have excellent properties, including a high melting point, high boiling point, low vapor pressure, good cold workability, high chemical stability, strong resistance to liquid metal and acid and alkali corrosion, and high dielectric constant of the surface oxide film, etc.

Tantalum and niobium metals and their compounds and alloys are important functional materials, which has important applications in the technical fields of electronics, steel, metallurgy, chemicals, hard alloys, atomic energy, aerospace, and other industrial sectors as well as strategic weapons, superconducting technology, scientific research, medical devices and so on.

ta-nb

Applications of tantalum and niobium

Tantalum and niobium are similar in nature and can be replaced in many application areas. However, their respective characteristics have led to the use of tantalum in industries such as electronics, metallurgy, chemicals, and hard alloys. Electrolytic capacitors made of tantalum metals in the electronics industry have outstanding characteristics such as large capacitance, small leakage current, good stability, high reliability, good pressure resistance, long life, and small volume. They are widely used in national defense, aviation and aerospace, electronic computers, high-end civilian electrical appliances and electronic circuits of various electronic instruments. Niobium is used in industrial-grade superconducting technology such as steel, ceramics and nuclear energy.

In today’s world, about 65% of the total tantalum is used in the electronics industry, and about 87% of the total niobium is used in the steel industry. With the advancement of technology, the application fields of tantalum and niobium and its alloys and processed materials will continue to expand.

tantalum

Tantalum can store and release energy, which is indispensable in the electronics industry, so tantalum capacitors consume more than half of the world’s mine production. The tantalum-based components can be made very small, and other chemical elements cannot be used as substitutes without degrading the performance of the electronic device, so tantalum is almost ubiquitous as a component application, such as a mobile phone, a hard disk, and a hearing aid. In the chemical industry, the corrosion resistance of tantalum is very good and it is used as a lining for pipelines and tanks. Tantalum carbide has a high hardness and is an ideal material for manufacturing cutting tools, and tantalum oxide can increase the refractive index of glass lenses.

Current supply and demand situation

Before the end of 2011, the industry was generally operating in a benign environment. The front end of tantalum niobium production has a large space, the intermediate wet smelting and fire smelting also have a certain profit, and the back end high specific volume of tantalum powder and tantalum wire production and sales market also has a large operation space. However, since the second half of 2012, with the emergence of the global financial crisis, such applications as tantalum niobium are relatively narrow and the consumer sector has been greatly affected by the high-end electronic products industry.

Tantalum Uses
Tantalum Uses

The trend of the tantalum niobium market

At present, the production in the tantalum niobium industry is mainly based on wet smelting and pyrometallurgical smelting. The products produced are mainly potassium fluoroantimonate, antimony oxide, antimony oxide, antimony carbide, antimony wire, metallurgical grade tantalum powder, and some coffin materials.

At present, the domestic demand for tantalum niobium is 800~1000 tons, and the national production capacity is about 140~150 tons. Most of the rest of the raw materials are all dependent on African imports.

Most of the exported antimony mines in Africa are also known as “African blood mines”, which refer to war-plunging low-cost minerals that are arbitrarily harvested and dug in the African region at the expense of polluting the environment and destroying resources. African mines are affected by the instability of the regional political and economic environment and have greater volatility. Its products contain high levels of unfavorable elements such as antimony, uranium, and thorium, which have certain adverse effects on product quality and environmental protection requirements of downstream products; Moreover, the delivery period of the mine is long and the safety cannot be fully guaranteed. To this end, the International Electron Association has classified it as a source of minerals that are not allowed to enter the normal market.

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

Super Performances of Tantalum in the Electronics & Aerospace Industries

Tantalum has a series of excellent properties, such as high melting point, low vapor pressure, good cold processing performance, high chemical stability, as well as strong resistance to liquid metal corrosion, etc., it has important applications in high and new technology fields such as electronics, metallurgy, superconducting technology, automobile electronics, aerospace, medical treatment, and scientific research. The following is a brief introduction to the super performances of tantalum in the electronics and aerospace industries.

Electronics industry

In the electronic industry, tantalum is mainly used as tantalum capacitors, which are usually used in the form of capacitor grade tantalum powder, tantalum wire, and tantalum foil. A tantalum capacitor is one of the indispensable electronic components of radar, aerospace aircraft and missile, and it is widely used for civil use, such as mobile communication, electronic equipment, and instruments.

Tantalum Capacitors
Tantalum Capacitors

As the specific surface area of tantalum powder is large, the dielectric constant of the thin film of the dielectric body is large, so the capacitance is large, then the small large-capacity capacitors can be made. The electrolytic capacitors made of tantalum have the advantages of small size, lightweight, good reliability, wide operating temperature range, and long service life.

Tantalum electrolytic capacitors can be classified into solid electrolytic capacitors and liquid electrolytic capacitors, and they are mainly divided into two anode types: foil anode and sintered anode. Tantalum wire is used as the anode lead for both capacitors.

With the development of electronic industry, the miniaturization and high reliability of tantalum capacitors are becoming increasingly strict. At present, the international commercial specific capacity of tantalum powder has reached more than 150,000 mu.F•V/g, and the laboratory has reached 30,000 mu.F•V/g.

Tantalum is also used as a material for electron tubes. Due to its high melting point, low real gas pressure, good processing performance, small linear expansion coefficient, and good inspiratory property, tantalum is a good material for launching tube and high-power electron tube parts.

Besides the above, tantalum target is an important material for magnetron sputtering coating of electronic chips due to its high chemical stability. You may check out more information at the specialized target website.

Tantalum Target
Tantalum Target

Aerospace industry

In addition to a large number of tantalum capacitors used in the aerospace industry, tantalum is also mainly used in high-temperature alloy and tantalum matrix heat resistant alloy in the aerospace industry, especially engine. High-performance alloys such as superalloy, corrosion-resistant alloy, and wear-resistant alloy can be made by adding tantalum to nickel base, cobalt base, and iron-base alloys.

Compared with niobium superalloy, tantalum superalloy has superior performance, higher heat resistance, and greater stress load. These alloys are mainly used as heat-resistant and high-strength structural materials for supersonic aircraft, solid propellant rockets, and missiles, as well as parts for control and adjustment devices. For example, the combustion chamber of the American Ajina Spacecraft is made of ta-10w alloy, and the flame temperature is very high (up to 2760℃) when its cover is small.

Superalloy
Superalloy

The aerospace industry is the second largest user of niobium and tantalum. Niobium and tantalum alloys, especially their superalloys and heat-resistant alloys based on them, are indispensable supporting materials for hot components of aircraft jet engines, rockets, spacecraft, and other vehicles.

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

How is Tantalum Used in the Military Industry?

The inner covering of the gun body

When gunpowder is exploded, it produces a tail flame with a temperature of 2500 ~ 3500K and a pressure of 300 ~ 800MPa. The tail flame contains such corrosive components as H2S, CO, O2, H2, H2O, N2 and powder residue particles. Therefore, the gun barrel will undergo the physical and chemical effects of high-temperature and high-pressure gunpowder gas (the thermal effect of high-temperature gas, the scouring of high-speed airflow, the corrosion of gunpowder gas residue in the bore, and the wear of high-speed moving projectile on the inner wall) when the projectile is launched. Under this working condition, the gun barrel bore will be subjected to severe ablative erosion and wear, which will lead to the change of the geometry and size of the barrel bore, which will directly affect the firing accuracy of the gun and the life of the barrel.

Therefore, the research on ablative behavior and protection of gun barrel has received extensive attention. The main considerations of gun barrel material are thermal properties, including heat resistance, thermal expansion, thermal conductivity, and thermal shock resistance; mechanical properties, including elastic modulus, mechanical strength, and hardness; chemical stability, that is, the chemical stability of materials in high temperature and corrosive atmosphere.

Gun-Barrel
Gun-barrel

Tantalum (Ta) has good physical and chemical properties. It is a high melting point (2996℃) refractory metal, with low thermal conductivity (57W/m℃), good chemical corrosion resistance (acid, salt and organic chemical corrosion resistance at high temperature) and excellent ablative resistance, as well as good plastic and toughness. Tantalum or tantalum alloy coating is considered to be an ideal coating system to replace the electroplating Cr coating for ablative and scour resistance. If the tantalum layer is to be used in the gun barrel for the purpose of gas ablation of fire retardant for a long time, the sputtering Ta layer should be mainly composed of alpha-ta with a thickness of at least 75 microns. The coating should have enough binding force with the substrate in all directions to resist the thermal shock and high shear stress in the gun firing process.

The cylindrical magnetron sputtering tantalum technology was proposed by Benet Laboratories of the United States army for the dimension characteristics of the gun barrel; Also, the trial production of cylindrical magnetron sputtering deposition technology platform for 120mm, 155mm and 105mm sputtering full-length large-caliber gun tubes were built in Waterfleet Arsenal, which was used for the magnetron sputtering full-bore tantalum plating for Abrams, Crusader, and future combat systems.

In the Bennett experiment of the US army, Vigilante et al. prepared pure tantalum ablative resistant layer in 25mm rifled gun barrel and 120mm smooth rifled gun barrel bore by using explosive spraying technology. It was found that the bonding between tantalum layer and the base metal was good, but the adiabatic shear band would appear in the base steel of the body tube and Ta-Fe brittle intermetallic compound phase would be formed.

Armor-piercing projectile

In the 1980s, a new type of warhead, the explosively formed penetrator, was successfully developed, mainly using tantalum on the butterfly bushing next to the high explosive. When the explosive is detonated, the butterfly disc morphs into a long, steady, sliver of a penetrator, accelerating towards its target.

Armor-piercing-projectile
Armor-piercing-projectile

With the development of armor materials, modern anti-armor warhead has higher and higher requirements on the materials of explosive forming munition type hood. The formation of a longer and more stable jet requires high density, high sound velocity, good thermal conductivity, and high dynamic fracture elongation. In addition, it is required that the material has a fine grain, low recrystallization temperature, certain texture, and other microstructure.

Tantalum and depleted uranium have high density, high dynamic elongation, and arson. Especially, tantalum has a high density (16.6g/cm3) and good dynamic characteristics, which is a kind of material mainly used in the research of explosive forming ammunition type. As a material of explosively formed munitions, tantalum is widely used in TOW-2B, TOW-NG, and other U.S. missiles. Ballistic experiments show that tantalum’s affinity is 30%~35% higher than that of copper, and can reach 150mm.

At present, the research of using tantalum as the coating material mainly focuses on improving the processing technology and saving the cost. Among them, the United States Army Equipment Research and Development Center (ARDEC) uses P/M method to develop explosively formed tantalum cartridge type housing; Two kinds of tantalum powders, PM2 and PM4, are pressed by static pressure, sintered, extruded and processed into blank material, and then annealed and forged by rotary forging, tantalum cartridge prepared in this way can be successfully applied to a well-shaped explosive forming projectile; German Smart-155mm end-sensitive projectile is one of the most advanced end-sensitive projectiles in the world today. The missile is made of thin-wall structure, and its sensitive device has high anti-interference ability, which can work normally in fog or the bad environment; The BONUS-155mm dexterous shell, jointly developed by the Swedish Bofors Company and the ground weapon group, has been mass-produced and is suitable for 45-caliber artillery.

Tantalum-powder
Tantalum-powder

High purity materials are required for the electrochemical cover of explosive forming. Trace elements have a great influence on the physical properties of the cover material, and ultimately affect the penetration depth of the projectile. The purity of tantalum has an influence on the strength, crystal structure and the length of the explosive forming projectile (EFP). Therefore, the purity of tantalum shall be strictly controlled in the preparation process.

Ultra-high vacuum aspirating material

Ultra-high vacuum aspirating material (tantalum alloy) is used in night vision equipment in conventional defense weapons. Using 15% tantalum as the framework and titanium as the adsorbent of hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, water vapor, methane, neon, and other gases can improve the service life of the inspiratory material. This material can be applied to the infrared camera tube in the active infrared night-vision instrument and the low-light tube in the passive low-light night vision instrument, to ensure the long-term high vacuum in the vacuum tube, so as to achieve the high efficiency, high life span and improve the definition of the night vision instrument.

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

A Brief History of Tantalum

In 1801, Charles Hatchett, a British chemist, analyzed a collection of minerals preserved in British museums and discovered a new element, Columbium (later renamed Columbium), in honor of Colombia, where the ore was made. In 1802, Anders Gustav Ekberg, a Swedish chemist, crystallized tantalum from niobium in Scandinavia.

Because tantalum and niobium have very similar properties and specific gravity, many scientists at the time mistakenly believed that the two elements were the same substance. In 1844, German chemist Rosser used chemical methods to prove that tantalum and niobium are two elements.

In 1903, pure tantalum was produced for the first time. Tantalum capacitors manufactured with tantalum, with high capacity, small size, and high reliability, are still irreplaceable components in the electronics industry.

With the continuous miniaturization and portability of global electronic products since 1990, tantalum capacitors have been widely used. Today, tantalum capacitors are shipped about 100 billion times a year.

tantalum-capacitors
Tantalum Capacitors

There are three major Tantalum companies operating in the world today: the US Cabot group, the German HCST group, and China Swing Orient Tantalum Industry Co., Ltd. These three companies produce more than 80 percent of the world’s tantalum products.

Tantalum used in electronics accounts for 60% of total production. But tantalum is not just used as a capacitor. Nickel-tantalum alloy is widely used in advanced aero-engine blades.

Before 2007, the world’s major sources of tantalum were Australia and Brazil. In 2000, the world’s major producing countries produced approximately 1,100 tons of tantalum concentrate, of which Australia accounted for 45%, mainly at Greenbush and Wodgina mines, while Brazil accounted for 17%, Rwanda 12%, and Congo 9%. At the time, Congo was in the midst of a second civil war, and large numbers of rebels smuggled Congolese tantalum mines into Rwanda for export under the Rwandan name.

In 2003, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) signed a peace agreement with rebels in the east that ended a second civil war. But the rebels in eastern DRC have not really laid down their arms, and are no longer engaged in open, large-scale fighting with government forces. The rebels continue to splinter and regroup, with new rebels popping up every now and then. Congo and the surrounding great lakes countries are backward industrially, all guns and ammunition are imported, and any imports must be accompanied by foreign currency. Both the rebels and the great lakes countries are eyeing tantalum as a new source of revenue.

Tantalum has supported the fighting in eastern Congo. Subsequently, the world’s major tantalum deposits have undergone a stunning reversal. Cheap Labour in eastern Congo, using baskets and hammer-shovels, has been digging holes in droves, defeating Australian tantalum miners armed with big mining machines. Australia’s tantalum mines, unable to compete with a shoveled army of poor Congolese, went bust and quit altogether.

tantalum-mines
Tantalum-mines

In 2007, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo had the world’s largest and second-largest share of tantalum mines. On January 9, 2007, Apple’s Steve Jobs launched the first iPhone. In 2014, most of the world’s tantalum mines were exported by Rwanda and DRC, including 600 tons from Rwanda and 200 tons from DRC, accounting for more than 70% of the world’s tantalum output.

In 2010, the U.S. implemented the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform and consumer protection act, which requires U.S. companies that purchase tantalum products and other materials to investigate their supply chains and determine that the materials are not sourced from conflict zones in the democratic republic of Congo. The United States describes minerals from the eastern DRC region that have been repeatedly contested by rebels and government forces as conflict minerals.

Rwanda, Tanzania, and Bolivia are investing in the construction of tantalum and niobium smelting plants due to the implementation of the Dodd-Frank Act in the US and the Conflict Minerals Regulation in the EU. It is expected that the supply of tantalum raw materials in the world, especially in Africa, will become more and tighter in the future.

Stanford Advanced Materials (SAM) is a trusted supplier of high-quality capacitor grade tantalum powdercapacitor grade tantalum wire and a wide variety of tantalum products. Please visit https://www.samaterials.com/ for more information.

Tracing Tantalum from Mine to Manufacture

tracing-tantalum

Step 1: Mining in Rwanda, Africa

Step 2: Refining in Macedonia, Greece

Step 3: Manufacturing in the USA

Step 4: Shipping from the USA

Step 5: Final Assembly in China, Asia

Step 6: Distribution to Consumers

The African country of Rwanda is the world’s biggest supplier of tantalum: a rare mineral used to make capacitors found in devices like smartphones and laptops. In 2014, most of the world’s tantalum mines were exported by Rwanda and DRC, including 600 tons from Rwanda and 200 tons from DRC, accounting for more than 70% of the world’s tantalum output.

Tantalum ore can be refined into tantalum metal and processed into various tantalum products, which are widely used in modern industry. For example, tantalum crucible is used in manufacturing super-alloys and electron-beam melting; tantalum ribbon can be used as a light source material for halogen lamp, sodium lamp, auto lamp, quartz glass lamp, etc.; tantalum plate is used in manufacturing superalloys and electron-beam melting, and so on.

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

What is the Prospect of New Tantalum 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, and it is the key material for the development of high and new technology, while tantalum niobium material plays an important role in this process. The development of modern high technology, such as information technology, new energy technology, space technology, biological technology, and superconducting technology, is closely related to rare metal materials, especially tantalum and niobium.

Tantalum niobium materials have more and more development space in the field of high technology. Firstly, tantalum and niobium capacitors are expanded to the high capacity field. Secondly, the cutting tools of cemented carbide are developing towards the direction of the super hard and fine tip, and the application market is expected to keep a steady climb. Thirdly, tantalum-niobium is applied in the aerospace industry, and tantalum-niobium alloys and other special alloys will continue to be developed steadily.

Technology-and-Media

In recent years, the demand for special niobium steel continues to grow. Special superconducting materials will be widely used in magnet materials and high and new computing technologies, and are being further developed. New applications of tantalum and niobium materials will be developed continuously. According to the development process of the world high-tech industry, the tantalum and niobium industry will continue to grow by more than 12% in the next 5-10 years.

Main products and functional properties

At present, the main products of tantalum and niobium industry include tantalum powder (capacitor grade, metallurgical grade), tantalum wire, tantalum carbide, tantalum and tantalum alloy ingots, tantalum and tantalum alloy processing materials (tantalum plate, strip, tube, bar, wire), tantalum target material, tantalum oxide (industrial, optical glass, high purity), lithium tantalate single crystal; Niobium powder (capacitor grade, metallurgical grade) niobium sheet, niobium and its alloy ingots, niobium and its alloy adding materials (plate, strip, tube, rod, wire), niobium oxide (electrical grade, industrial, light glass, high purity), niobium carbide, lithium niobate single crystal, niobium and its alloy superconducting materials, etc.

niobium-capacitors
Niobium Capacitors

About 60% of the world’s tantalum is used to make tantalum capacitors. Tantalum powder and wire are the key materials for manufacturing tantalum capacitors, which are widely used in mobile phones, computers, digital products, automobiles, aerospace electronics, and other fields. Tantalum and niobium targets are used in semiconductor devices and liquid crystal display technology, niobium oxide, niobium powder, and niobium wire are used in manufacturing ceramic capacitors and niobium capacitors.

Superalloys can be produced by adding tantalum or niobium to tungsten, molybdenum, nickel, cobalt, vanadium and iron-based alloys or by adding other metal elements to tantalum and niobium. Superalloys are important structural materials for aerospace engines, land-based airflow turbine engines, modern weapons, and harsh industrial environment facilities. Tools and drill tools made of carbides such as tantalum carbide and niobium carbide can withstand the high temperature of nearly 3000℃, and their hardness can be comparable with diamond.

Since niobium and tantalum have good superconductivity, adding niobium and tantalum into the materials used for making wires and cables can greatly reduce the loss of electric energy and thus save electric energy. Tantalum niobium is a high-quality material resistant to acid and liquid metal corrosion. It can be used in digesters, heaters, coolers and various devices and utensils in the chemical industry. In addition, the tantalum niobium and its alloy can also be used as nuclear reactor cladding materials and high energy physics superconducting devices. Moreover, tantalum is ideal bio-adaptive material and is widely used in medical surgery.

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

Overview of the Properties of Tantalum Compounds

Tantalum oxide

The most useful tantalum oxide is tantalum pentaoxide (Ta2O5). Ta2O5 is white fine crystal powder, tasteless and odorless, with a specific gravity of 8.71g/cm3 and a melting point of 1870℃. Tantalum is amphoteric, but apparently acidic, insoluble in water, most acids and bases, but slowly dissolved in hot hydrofluoric and peroxy acids.

Ta2O5 has both α and βvariants, and its transition temperature is 1320℃, beyond which Ta2O5 turns white to gray. Different oxides have different crystal structures, so their lattice constants, densities, and other properties are obviously different. It is known that amorphous Ta2O5 begins to crystallize at 500℃ to form a low-temperature crystal (T type), converts to a temperature crystal (M type) at 830℃, and forms a high-temperature crystal (H type) at more than 830℃.

Tantalum-oxide
Tantalum-oxide

Tantalum halide

In tantalum halides, halogens in high-priced pentahalides are more easily replaced by oxygen to form stable halogen oxides. Most of the halogens of tantalum are volatile compounds, among which fluoride is well soluble in water and only partially hydrolyzed.

Tantalum(V) chloride (TaCl5) is white powder and yellow when it is not pure. It has a melting point of 220℃, a boiling point of 223℃-239℃, and a specific gravity of 3.68g/cm3. It is volatile and has strong moisture absorption. It is unstable at high temperature and decomposes to form metal tantalum at vacuum temperature above 800℃. In addition to the high-priced TaCl5, the low-priced chlorides of tantalum include TaCl4, TaCl3, and TaCl2, which are volatile substances.

Tantalum bromide (TaBr5) is an orange crystal, soluble in water and hydrolyzed, soluble in methanol, ethanol, and CCl4, and soluble in aniline and liquid ammonia for reactions. Tantalum iodide (TaI5) is a black crystal that can be heated to sublimate without decomposition and readily hydrolyzes in moist air, releasing hydrogen iodide.

Tantalum carbide

Ta2C and tantalum carbide (TaC) are the main carbides of tantalum, and Ta2C has both alpha -Ta2C and beta -Ta2C isomers. TaC is a dark brown powder with a melting point of 3880℃, a boiling point of 5500℃ and a density of 14.4g/cm3. It has good chemical stability and can only be dissolved in mixed solutions of nitric acid and hydrofluoric acid. The carbide of tantalum is not easy to be oxidized in the air when the temperature is lower than 1000 ~ 1100℃. Nitrogen compounds are readily formed by the action of nitrogen or ammonia.

Tantalum-carbide
Tantalum-carbide

Tantalum hydride

Tantalum hydrides are very stable at room temperature in air. Hydrogen is released by decomposition when heated to 1000 ~ 1200℃ under high vacuum. Below 350℃, tantalum almost has no interaction with hydrogen, and the reaction speed increases with the increase of temperature. At a certain temperature and pressure, the maximum hydrogen content in tantalum hydride corresponds to H/Ta of 0.02 ~ 0.08(TaH0.2 ~ TaH0.8).

Tantalum nitride

There are three kinds of tantalum nitride: TaN, Ta2N, and Ta3N5. Tantalum nitrite is a bluish-gray powder with a melting point of 2980 ~ 3090℃ and a density of 14.4g/cm3. It is insoluble in nitric acid, hydrofluoric acid, and sulfuric acid, but soluble in hot alkaline solution and releases ammonia or nitrogen. Tantalum nitride generates oxides when heated in air, releasing nitrogen.

Tantalum selenite

TaSe2, its resistivity is 2.23 x 10-3 Ω. Cm, with the relative friction coefficient of 0.08 in the air at room temperature, the oxidation temperature of 600 ℃ in air, and the decomposition temperature of 900 ℃ in a vacuum.

Tantalum silicone

The main silicide of tantalum is TaSi2, and there are also some other compounds such as Ta2Si and Ta5Si3. Ta2Si has a melting point of 2200 ℃, a density of 8.83 g/cm3 and a resistance of 8.5 Ω. Cm. It is not eroded by mineral acids, but can be decomposed by hydrofluoric acid, and can be completely decomposed by molten Na2CO3 and NaOH.

TaSi2 Powder
TaSi2 Powder

Tantalate

Ta2O5 can be fused with oxides, hydroxides or carbonates of more than 50 elements from all 8 groups in the periodic table of chemical elements to form various complex types of tantalates, which may be expressed in the following general formula: xMeO•yTa2O5 (Me = alkali metal).

Almost all alkali tantalates have a high degree of polymerization in aqueous solution and are insoluble compounds in water solution. Alkali tantalate can be reduced by hydrogen: 2MeTaO3+H2=Me2O+2TaO2+H2O, with reaction temperature of 600~700℃. Except for alkali tantalates, most tantalates are insoluble in water.

Most tantalate crystals (such as lithium tantalate) are ferroelectric. They belong to the category of thermoelectric devices that have spontaneous polarization. Their polarization value is related to electric field voltage and has Curie temperature. Tantalum ferroelectric materials also have the characteristics of voltage, electro-optic and nonlinear optics. Some tantalates are semiconductor materials with narrow channels and are important materials for manufacturing electronic industrial components.

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.

Tantalum VS Niobium

Tantalum and niobium belong to one family in the periodic table. Due to their similar physical and chemical properties, as well as growing together in the same ore body, they are known as the twin of metals.

Tantalum and niobium were discovered in 1801 and 1802 by Charles Hatchett, a British chemist, and Ekberg, a Swedish chemist. Tantalum niobium ore is the main ore of tantalum and niobium, and a small amount of tantalum and niobium exist in tungsten and some rare earth ores.

ta-vs-nb

Properties

Tantalum and niobium are both high-melting metals with melting points of 2996℃ and 2468℃ respectively. Tantalum and niobium have very stable chemical properties, not only insoluble in nitric acid, hydrochloric acid, but also insoluble in aqua regia. Tantalum is malleable and can be pulled into strands thinner than a human hair or rolled into foil thinner than paper. Tantalum and niobium are both excellent superconducting materials with characteristics of compression and wear resistance.

Applications

Tantalum and niobium are widely used in various fields because of their excellent properties mentioned above.

1. Capacitor

Tantalum can form a compact and stable amorphous oxide film with high dielectric strength, so it is easy to control the anodic oxidation process of capacitor accurately and conveniently. Tantalum powder sintered blocks can obtain a large surface area in a small volume, so tantalum capacitors are the most excellent capacitors with small volume, large capacity, low leakage current, long service life, and excellent comprehensive performance. Under normal conditions, tantalum capacitors are smaller in size, higher in capacity and more stable in function than ceramic capacitors, aluminum capacitors, and thin film capacitors.

tantalum-vs-niobium

Tantalum capacitors have excellent characteristics that cannot be compared with many other capacitors. In the field of microelectronics science and surface mount technology, there is almost no other equivalent capacitor to compete with them. Therefore, 60~ 65% of tantalum is used in the manufacture of tantalum capacitors in the form of capacitor grade tantalum powder and tantalum wire.

Compared with tantalum, the main disadvantages of niobium capacitors are large leakage current (generally 5-10 times of tantalum), low breakdown voltage (< 10V) and low operating temperature (< 105℃), which are not suitable for capacitors with high-reliability requirements and high rated voltage. However, in the range of low voltage (< 10V) and large capacity (> 100muf), niobium capacitors may partially replace tantalum capacitors of the same level.

2. Metallurgical industry

In the metallurgical industry, niobium is mainly used to manufacture high-temperature resistant alloy steel and improve the strength of steel. In the smelting of carbon steel, the strength of the steel can be increased by more than one third by adding only a few parts per million of niobium. Superalloys made of niobium, tantalum, tungsten, aluminum, nickel, cobalt, vanadium and other metals are good structural materials for supersonic jet aircraft, rockets, and missiles.

superalloy

3. Mechanical industry

In the mechanical industry, the cutting tool made of carbides such as niobium carbide and tantalum carbide can withstand the high temperature of nearly 3000℃, and its hardness can be comparable with that of the diamond, the hardest substance in the world.

4. Biomedical industry

Tantalum is an ideal bio-adaptive material in medicine. When it comes in direct contact with human bones, muscle tissues, and fluids, it can adapt to biological cells and has an excellent affinity with almost no human stimulation and side effects. Tantalum can not only be used to make bone plates, screws and clamping rods for fracture treatment, but also can be directly used to repair bones with tantalum plates and pieces and replace broken bones due to trauma with tantalum strips. Tantalum wire and foil can be used to suture nerves, muscles and blood vessels above 1.5 mm, while the extremely thin tantalum wire can replace tendons and even nerve fibers.

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.