Antimony – Properties and Applications

Antimony, the chemical element with the symbol Sb and atomic number 51 is instrumental in the development of superacids derived from antimony pentafluoride. Antimony is one of a number of the chemicals used today for high quality industrial purposes have a rich and elongated history.

History of Antimony

The Father of Chemistry, Jabir ibn Hayyan, first recognized antimony in the 8th century while a millennium later the Swedish Scientist Anton von Swab discovered “native antimony” in the 1783 from the Sala Silver Mine in Sala, Sweden. Much has been accomplished since then especially regarding the use of antimony in electronics during the last few years.

Properties of Antimony

Metallic antimony is an extremely brittle metal of a flaky, crystalline texture. It is bluish white and has a metallic lustre. It is not acted on by air at room temperature, but burns brilliantly when heated with the formation of white fumes. It is a poor conductor of heat and electricity. It is mostly used today for varied end uses such as fire retardants and ball bearings. Antimony is has recently found applications in semiconductors and microelectronics.


Atomic number


Atomic mass

121.75 g.mol -1

Electronegativity according to Pauling




Melting point

631 °C

Boiling point

1380 °C

Vanderwaals radius

0.159 nm

Ionic radius

0.245 nm (-3); 0.062 nm (+5); 0.076 nm (+3)



Electronic Shell

[ Kr ] 4d10 5s25p3

Energy of first ionisation

834 kJ.mol -1

Energy of second ionisation

1595 kJ.mol -1

Energy of third ionisation

2443 kJ.mol -1

Standard potential

0.21 V ( Sb3+/ Sb)


Main Applications

One of the main uses of antimony is in fire retardants for many commercial and domestic products. Antimony trichloride is used in the manufacturing flame-proofing compounds as well as paints, ceramic enamels, glass and pottery. Other uses include ball bearings and mixing with alloys with percentages ranging from 1 to 20 greatly increasing the hardness and mechanical strength of the lead. The capability to strengthen already strong alloys is its largest and most widespread use.

Other Applications

Other applications for antimony include:

  • Startup neutron sources in nuclear reactors
  • Dopants for silicon wafers for the semiconductor industry
  • Safety matches
  • Brake pads
  • Ammunition

Cartoon by Nick D Kim, Used by permission.

The Future of Antimony

While the vast quantities of antimony have been used for the production of alloys and flame retardants, this is likely to remain the case into the near future. As science develops more or improved uses in developed or developing markets it shall also increase the need for Antimony.

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by AHP Materials.

For more information o this source, please visit AHP Materials.


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