How are Tantalum Capacitors used in Audio and Microphone Industry?

As tantalum capacitors have become more widely used in the market, their models and supply volumes have increased and prices have started to fall. Nowadays, aluminum electrolytic capacitors are replaced by tantalum capacitors in many industries. Of course, tantalum capacitors also have their own defects, such as not having high enough pressure, which greatly limits their use area.

capacitive microphone

Tantalum is easily oxidized in the air. The tantalum capacitors made by using its oxide film as the medium have the function of repairing wounds automatically, so they are durable and reliable. The tantalum oxide film is very thin, so the distance between two plates of tantalum capacitors is very close, and the reaction is very sensitive, so the charging and discharging speed is fast. These characteristics determine that tantalum capacitors are suitable for high-frequency, low-current, and fast reactive circuits. Therefore, tantalum capacitors are widely used in satellites and other circuits requiring fast response and high reliability.

Tantalum capacitors are often used in advanced audio circuits, mainly high audio circuits, due to their high sensitivity and fast charge-discharge. As the loss of weak current to high audio is reduced, the relatively high pitch and sound quality are improved. In short, the tantalum capacitive microphone has the following advantages.

Capacitive Microphone
Capacitive Microphone

Broad frequency response

The vibrating membrane is the main component of the microphone which induces sound and converts it into an electrical signal, and the material and mechanism design of the vibrating film is an important factor to determine the sound quality of the microphone. The vibrating membrane of a capacitive microphone can be made of extremely thin material and the induced sound pressure is converted directly into an audio signal, so the bass of frequency response can extend to the ultra-low frequency below 10Hz, and the high tone can easily reach the ultrasonic waves of dozens of KHz, showing very broad frequency response characteristics.


Because there is no load on the diaphragm, the diaphragm can be designed in such a light and thin way that the frequency response is superior and the sensitivity is excellent. It can sense extremely weak sound waves, and output the clearest, most delicate, and most accurate original sound.

Fast transient response

In addition to the characteristics that determine the frequency response and sensitivity of the microphone, the ability of the vibrating membrane to react quickly to sound waves, namely the “instantaneous response” characteristic, is one of the most important factors that affect the microphone’s timbre. The speed of the instantaneous response of the microphone depends on the weight of the whole vibrating membrane. The lighter the vibrating membrane, the faster the reaction speed. The extremely thin vibrating film of the capacitive voice head has an extremely fast transient response, so it can show a clear, energetic, and accurate timbre.

Capacitor microphone

Resistance to fall and impact

In general, the use of microphones can be caused by accidental falls and collisions. Since the capacitive head is made up of lighter plastic parts and a sturdy light metal case, the impact force on the falling ground is small and the failure rate of damage is low.

Small size and lightweight

The capacitive microphone has the advantages of small volume, lightweight, high sensitivity, and superior frequency response due to its ultra-thin vibrating membrane, so it can be designed into subminiature microphones (commonly known as small bees and small ants) and is widely used.

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Where Can We Find Tantalum Metal?

Tantalum metal mainly exists in tantalite ore and is symbiotic with niobium. Tantalum is of moderate hardness and ductility and can be drawn into tantalum wire or tantalum foil. Tantalum has a wide range of applications due to its characteristics, and it widely exists in tantalite, tantalum alloy, tantalum powder, tantalum capacitors, etc.

tantalum alloy

Tantalum alloy is an alloy based on tantalum adding other elements. The tantalum anode oxide film is stable and corrosion-resistant. It has excellent dielectric properties and is suitable for making the electrolytic capacitor. Tantalum is highly resistant to chemical corrosion. Except for hydrogen fluoride, sulfur trioxide, hydrofluoric acid, hot concentrated sulfuric acid and alkali, tantalum can resist the corrosion of all organic and inorganic acids. Therefore, it can be used as corrosion resistant materials for chemical industry and medicine.

Tantalum alloy

As tantalum is similar to some rare elements such as uranium, thorium, rare earth, titanium, zirconium, tungsten, and common elements tin, calcium, iron, and manganese in crystalline chemistry, it is easy to have equivalence and heteromorphism.

The compact oxide film formed on the surface of metallic tantalum has the properties of valve metal of unidirectional conduction. The anodic film made of tantalum powder has chemical stability (especially in acidic electrolyte stability), high resistivity (7.5 x 1010 Ω, cm), dielectric constant (27.6) and small leakage current. Tantalum is not only the raw material for the production of pure metal tantalum but also used in the electronics industry. Lithium tantalate monocrystals and special optical glass with high refraction and low dispersion can be used as a catalyst in the chemical industry.

Tantalum oxide is a white powder insoluble in water and acids, but soluble in molten potassium bisulfate and hydrofluoric acid. The minerals containing tantalum and niobium are mainly iron tantalum and calcined greenstone. The ones containing more tantalum are called tantalite, while the ones containing more niobium are called niobite.

tantalum capacitor

The design of tantalum capacitors requires that the product performance parameters of tantalum capacitors can meet the circuit signal characteristics. However, it is often impossible to guarantee that the above two tasks are done well. Therefore, it is inevitable that failures of one kind or another will occur in the process of use. The solid tantalum capacitors were first developed in 1956 by Bell Laboratories in the United States. Tantalum capacitors can easily obtain large capacity, and there are few competitors in power filter, ac bypass, and other applications.

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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.

superconducting devices

Main products and performance

At present, the main products used in the 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.

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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 the 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 a 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 computers, communication systems, aircraft, missiles, ships, and weapon systems.

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 ductility, 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, the 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 percent 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 an 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.

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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.

metal tantalum

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 has a wide range of applications due to its excellent performance. 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.

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