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An Overview of Tantalum Element

Tantalum Overview

The texture of the tantalum is very hard and the hardness can reach 6-6.5. Its melting point is as high as 2996 °C, only after carbon, tungsten, rhenium, and osmium. Tantalum is malleable and can be drawn into a thin foil. Its coefficient of thermal expansion is very small, and it only expands by 6.6 parts per million per degree Celsius. In addition, it has strong toughness and is superior to copper.


Physical Properties

Material Type Tantalum
Symbol Ta
Color/Appearance Gray Blue, Metallic
Thermal Conductivity 57 W/m.K
Melting Point 3,017°C
Coefficient of Thermal Expansion 6.3 x 10-6/K
Sputter DC
Type of Bond Indium, Elastomer
Comments Forms good films.

Chemical Properties

It also has excellent chemical properties and is extremely resistant to corrosion. Tantalum does not react with hydrochloric acid, concentrated nitric acid, and “aqua regia” under both cold and hot conditions. And tantalum is only corroded by concentrated sulfuric acid at temperatures above 150 °C. However, tantalum is rapidly dissolved in a mixed acid of hydrofluoric acid and nitric acid, and can be dissolved in hydrofluoric acid. It can be said that tantalum is one of the most chemically stable metals at temperatures below 150 °C.

How is Tantalum Used

Tantalum can be used to manufacture tantalum sputtering targets,  evaporation vessels, as well as tubes, rectifiers, and electrolytic capacitors. Tantalum sputter target forms a stable anodized film in an acidic electrolyte. The electrolytic capacitor made of tantalum has the advantages of large capacity, small size, and good reliability. Tantalum capacitors are one the most important use of tantalum, around 2/3 of the full use of tantalum. Tantalum is also the material for making electron-emitting tubes and high-power tube parts. Anti-corrosion equipment made by Tantalum is used in the chemical industry such as strong acid, bromine, and ammonia-producing industries. The metal tantalum can be used as a structural material for the combustion chamber of an aircraft engine. Tantalum is easy to form and can be used as support accessories, heat shields, heaters, and heat sinks in high-temperature vacuum furnaces. Tantalum can also be used as orthopedic and surgical materials.

tantalum target semiconductor

High Purity Tantalum Preparation

The chemical inertness and relatively low price of tantalum make it a good alternative to platinum.  However, high-purity tantalum is not easy to get because it is always found together with niobium in the mineral groups of tantalite, columbite, and coltan. To get high purity tantalum, here are several methods.

Metal thermal reduction

Tantalum powder can be obtained by the metal thermal reduction (sodium thermal reduction) method. The potassium fluotantalate is reduced with sodium metal under an inert atmosphere: K2TaF7 + 5Na-→Ta+5NaF+2KF. The reaction was carried out in a stainless steel tank, and the reaction was quickly completed when the temperature was heated to 900 °C. The powder prepared by this method has an irregular grain shape and fine particle size and is suitable for making tantalum capacitors.

Molten salt electrolysis

A molten salt of a mixture of potassium fluoroantimonate, potassium fluoride, and potassium chloride is used as an electrolyte, and tantalum pentoxide (Ta2O5) is dissolved therein and electrolyzed at 750 °C. This method can obtain a bismuth powder having a purity of 99.8 to 99.9%.

Carbothermal reduction

Tantalum can also be obtained by carbothermal reduction of Ta2O5. The reduction is generally carried out in two steps: first, a mixture of a certain ratio of Ta2O5 and carbon is made into tantalum carbide (TaC) at 1800 to 2000 ° C in a hydrogen atmosphere. Then, TaC and Ta2O5 are prepared into a mixture in a certain ratio, and reduced to tantalum in a vacuum.

Thermal decomposition or hydrogen reduction of chloride

Tantalum can also be obtained by thermal decomposition or hydrogen reduction of chloride. The dense metal crucible can be prepared by vacuum arc, electron beam, plasma beam melting, or powder metallurgy.


Thank you for reading our article and we hope that it can help you have a better understanding of the tantalum element. If you want to know more about sputtering knowledge, we would like to advise you to visit Stanford Advanced Materials (SAM) for more information.

About the author

Julissa Green graduated from the University of Texas studying applied chemistry. She started her journalism life as a chemistry specialist in Stanford Advanced Materials (SAM) since 2016 and she has been fascinated by this fast growing industry ever since. If you have any particular topics of interest, or you have any questions, you can reach her at julissa@samaterials.com.

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About Us

Stanford Advanced Materials (SAM) Corporation is a global supplier of various sputtering targets such as metals, alloys, oxides, ceramic materials. It was first established in 1994 to begin supplying high-quality rare-earth products to assist our customers in the research and development (R&D) fields.

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