Bismuth (Bi) - Properties, Applications

Topics Covered

Chemical Properties
Physical Properties
Mechanical Properties
Thermal Properties


Bismuth is a white, crystalline, brittle metal with a pinkish tinge. It is represented by the chemical symbol ‘Bi’ and its atomic number is 83. A notable characteristic of this element is its diamagnetism, which is the highest amongt metals. It has a high electrical resistance and very low thermal conductivity. It belongs to p-block, period 6 of the periodic table.

Properties of bismuth are similar to that of lead and tin. All the salts of bismuth are insoluble in water. Two most common minerals of bismuth are bismite and bismuthimite. Bismuth is mainly found in Bolivia, Peru, Mexico, Japan and Canada. Bismuth is not toxic by nature; however, large doses of bismuth can harm the kidney.

Chemical Properties

The chemical properties of bismuth are provided in the table below:

Chemical Data
CAS number 7440-69-9
Thermal neutron cross section 0.032 barns/atom
Electrode potential 0.20 V
Ionic radius 0.740 Å
Electro negativity 1.9
X-ray absorption edge 0.13691 Å
Electrochemical equivalent 2.59 g/A/h

Physical Properties

The following table discusses the physical properties of bismuth.

Properties Metric Imperial
Density 9.80 g/cm3 0.354 lb/in3
Melting point 271.3 °C 520.3 °F
Boiling point 2000 °C 3630°F

Mechanical Properties

The mechanical properties of bismuth are tabulated below.

Properties Metric Imperial
Modulus of elasticity 31.7 GPa 4600 ksi
Shear modulus 11.9 GPa 1730 ksi
Hardness, Brinell 7 7
Poissons Ratio 0.33 0.33

Thermal Properties

The thermal properties of bismuth are tabulated below.

Properties Metric Imperial
Thermal expansion co-efficient (@20-100°C/68-212°F) 13.3 µm/m°C 7.39µin/in°F
Thermal conductivity 10 W/mK 69.4 BTU in/hr.ft².°F


The following are the application areas of bismuth:

  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Cosmetics and pigments
  • Replacement of lead
  • Low melting solders
  • Fusible alloys
  • Synthetic fibres
  • Shots and shotguns.

Bismuth alloys are used in soldering, thermocouple materials and magnetic memory devices. Compounds of bismuth are used in lubricating greases, thermoelectric materials, infrared spectrometers, etc.

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