HHomeBackground Color:He
LiBeBismuth Pictures PageBlack White GrayBCNOFNe
NaMgBismuth Technical DataAlSiPSClAr
KCaBismuth Isotope DataScTiVCrMnFeCoNiCuZnGaGeAsSeBrKr
RbSrYZrNbMoTcRuRhPdAgCdInSnSbTeIXe
CsBaLaCePrNdPmSmEuGdTbDyHoErTmYbLuHfTaWReOsIrPtAuHgTlPbBiPoAtRn
FrRaAcThPaUNpPuAmCmBkCfEsFmMdNoLrRfDbSgBhHsMtDsRgCnUutUuqUupUuhUusUuo
Bismuth     

Bismuth

Atomic Weight 208.98038
Density 9.78 g/cm3
Melting Point 271.3 °C
Boiling Point 1564 °C
Full technical data

Bismuth loves to form beautiful crystals. You can make small ones without even trying, but one this big requires very pure bismuth and careful control of the cooling rate as the crystal is formed.

Scroll down to see examples of Bismuth.
The Elements book Mad Science book Periodic Table Poster  Click here to buy a book, photographic periodic table poster, card deck, or 3D print based on the images you see here!
Bismuth Pepto-Bismol

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Pepto-Bismol.
Upset stomach medicine whose active ingredient is (bismuth subsalicylate) is 57% by weight bismuth.
Source: Walmart
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 24 March, 2009
Text Updated: 24 March, 2009
Price: $4
Size: 6"
Purity: 57%
Bismuth Element coin

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Element coin.
Dave Hamric sells element samples under the name Metallium. He's developed a line of coins struck out of various common and uncommon metals: They are quite lovely, and very reasonably priced, considering the difficulty of creating some of them.
Here is the back side of this coin (click either picture to see it larger):

Click the Sample Group link below to see many other coins made of various elements, or click the link to his website above if you want to buy one like this.
Source: Dave Hamric
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 30 September, 2007
Text Updated: 30 September, 2007
Price: $13
Size: 0.75"
Purity: >99%
Sample Group: Coins
Bismuth More native bismuth

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More native bismuth.
Naturally occurring bismuth.
Source: eBay seller kbv1
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 8 May, 2007
Text Updated: 9 May, 2007
Price: $16
Size: 1"
Purity: 90%
Bismuth Native bismuth from New Mexico

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Native bismuth from New Mexico.
Naturally occurring bismuth.
Source: eBay seller kbv1
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 24 February, 2007
Text Updated: 24 February, 2007
Price: $16
Size: 1"
Purity: 90%
Bismuth Foundry ingot

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Foundry ingot.
This 35-pound ingot is one of a pair I bought from Hall Mark Metals (who also sell on eBay, see source link). These ingots are intended to be melted down for casting or alloying. 35 pounds of bismuth is quite a lot, but I find uses for it in making crystals from time to time, or for trading.
Source: eBay seller hallmarkmetals
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 20 December, 2005
Text Updated: 30 May, 2006
Price: $10/pound
Size: 14"
Purity: 99.99%
Bismuth Formerly world's largest crystal

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Formerly world's largest crystal.
This was at one time the largest known (to me at least) bismuth crystal, made by a guy whose goal in life is to make the world's largest bismuth crystal. Then I dropped it. ARGGGGHHH. Worse, I dropped before I even had a chance to photograph it, so the world will never know just how big it really was (which is about twice as big as it is now).

I chose this sample to represent its element in my Photographic Periodic Table Poster. The sample photograph includes text exactly as it appears in the poster, which you are encouraged to buy a copy of.
Periodic Table Poster

Source: eBay seller kskt4
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 15 December, 2005
Text Updated: 4 May, 2007
Price: $300
Size: 4"
Purity: 99.99%
Bismuth Etched bismuth heart

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Etched bismuth heart.
As you can see from several of the other samples on this site, bismuth makes lovely square hopper crystals. What you may not realize is that pretty much any plain chunk of bismuth is full of these crystals, whether you see them or not. The spectacular display crystals are made by allowing a pot of bismuth to partially harden, then removing the crystal before the liquid metal around it has a chance to solidify. But the crystal is still there even if you let the pot harden all the way, you just can't see it because it's completely surrounded by more solid bismuth.

The surface of a cooled lump of bismuth (and most other metals) is formed by the interrupted faces of different crystal zones, oriented in different directions relative to the surface. Normally the surface looks uniform, because the orientation of the underlying crystal zone doesn't have any effect on how light is reflected, probably because right at the very surface the atoms are disordered by their interaction with air at the moment of cooling.

However, if you use acid to etch away the outer layers of metal, you can expose the crystal zones in a way which makes them reflect light differently from different angles. The result is that you see a patchwork of zones that sparkle alternately depending on the angle of light. These flat zones in fact go way down into the solid, you're just seeing the ends of them.

The size of the zones depends on the purity of the metal (higher purity gives larger zones, and making big display crystals requires very high purity bismuth, at least 99.99%), and on the rate of cooling (slower cooling gives larger crystals a chance to form). Look at the rotation video for this sample and you'll see the crystal zones sparkling in a most lovely way.

Ethan has this to say about the process of etching he used:
I discovered that the best way to reveal the crystal interior after I cast the heart was an acid process, three seconds in industrial hydrofluoric acid and then seven in concentrated nitric. Unfortunately, in my zeal of preparing the baths and baking soda rinse, I spilled a drop or two of the hydrofluoric acid on my arm, and promptly washed it off for 15 seconds. I then proceeded to boy scouts for an hour or so, came back and started dinner. By that point the dime-sized patch on my arm was bright red and beginning to hurt like a jellyfish sting, so I told my parents what happened. Half an hour and one poison control call later, I was lying in a hospital bed with a big compress of 2% calcium gluconate around my arm, and a lot of shocked nurses, unfortunately at about midnight on a school night. Everything turned out fine, my arm stopped hurting, my heart didn't stop, I didn't acquire hypocalcemia, and the bismuth turned out beautifully!
From this we learn two things. First, that hydrofluoric acid is not to be trifled with (and neither is elemental fluorine for that matter). Second, that Ethan cooks.

Source: Ethan Currens
Contributor: Ethan Currens
Acquired: 28 November, 2005
Text Updated: 19 November, 2007
Price: Donated
Size: 2"
Purity: 99.99%
Bismuth Bismuth heart

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Bismuth heart.
Ethan Currens cast this bismuth heart in a mold he made in ceramics class at school. Good for him. It has a typical multi-colored bismuth oxide surface, but see below for a similar heart that has been etched to reveal the interior crystal structure.
Source: Ethan Currens
Contributor: Ethan Currens
Acquired: 28 November, 2005
Text Updated: 19 November, 2007
Price: Donated
Size: 2"
Purity: 99.99%
The Elements book Mad Science book Periodic Table Poster  Click here to buy a book, photographic periodic table poster, card deck, or 3D print based on the images you see here!
Bismuth Huge crystal

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Huge crystal.
This is a very large artificial crystal: The man who made it is working on a scheme to grow a football-sized one. Now that would be a sight to see! If he succeeds, he'll no doubt list it on his website where he sells many very nice crystals.
Source: eBay seller kskt4
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 1 September, 2003
Text Updated: 11 August, 2007
Price: $69
Size: 4"
Purity: 99.99%
Bismuth Mini element collection

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Mini element collection.
This is a nice little set from the 1960's. The enclosed price list indicates it cost a few dollars, and the enclosed mercury sample indicates it predates current environmental concerns! Here's a picture of the whole 2-box set:
Jr Collection of Elements

Source: Blake Ferris
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 15 July, 2004
Price: $61/set
Size: 1"
Purity: >98%
Bismuth Strange crystal

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Strange crystal.
The seller swears on a stack of bibles that this is natural (native) bismuth dug out of the ground in this form from the old Trajos silver mine in Chihuahua, Mexico. Unfortunately, this is not the case. The bluish cast does look very much like the film that forms on high-purity bismuth when it is molten, which may explain the seller's honestly mistaken identification. But this crystal is actually silicon carbide, possibly formed in an iron cupola from a reaction between the coke used to melt the iron and the silica fire brick lining the cupola. Because of the insistence of the seller that it was bismuth I made an effort to be be absolutely sure about the identification, which was achieved by an SEM-EDS (Scanning Electron Microscope coupled to an Energy Dispersive X-ray Spectrometer) at the Center for Microanalysis of Materials, University of Illinois (partially supported by the U.S. Department of Energy under grant DEFG02-91-ER45439). The instrument allows one to measure the elemental composition of individual microscopic areas of a sample, in this case the cross section of a single dendrite broken off the crystal. It showed a ratio of silicon and carbon consistent with silicon carbide on the inside of the dendrite, with a small component of oxygen found on the surface (and no doubt responsible for the bluish film).
Although this very sophisticated instrument allowed a definitive determination of what the crystal actually is, verifying that it is not bismuth requires no special tools: It doesn't melt. Native bismuth in this form would have been quite remarkable, as no such material is known to exist. But the fact that it's not bismuth in no way detracts from the fact that it's very attractive! It is one of the more beautiful crystals in my collection, and I really could care less where it's from.
Source: eBay seller 4jdk
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 28 January, 2004
Price: $90
Size: 4"
Purity: 0%
Bismuth German crystal

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German crystal.
Another fine example of German bismuth crystal engineering. For some reason a lot of these really nice artificial crystals seem to come from Germany.
Source: Frank Liebscher
Contributor: Frank Liebscher
Acquired: 28 January, 2004
Price: Donated
Size: 1.25"
Purity: 99.997%
Bismuth High purity shot

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High purity shot.
These look a lot like they were dropped into water while molten. I'm not sure why very high purity bismuth would be supplied in this form, but I guess it's convenient for measuring out bits at a time. This sample was donated by Dave Roberts of DePauw University, who I got to know while I was installing the beautiful periodic table display that now graces their Julian Science Center. Dave found a bunch of surplus elements in their chemical storeroom, and naturally Max Whitby and I graciously offered to take them off his hands.
Source: Dave Roberts
Contributor: daverobers
Acquired: 1 November, 2003
Text Updated: 11 August, 2007
Price: Donated
Size: 0.8"
Purity: 99.999%
Bismuth Crystal garden

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Crystal garden.
I made this small garden of bismuth crystals for the photo shoot for one of my Popular Science articles. OK, so it's not as impressive as the one above, but I made it using the most simple possible procedure that anyone could duplicate with minimal practice. All it takes is a pot of bismuth (about $20/pound), a stove to melt it on, and a cup to pour it out of after it's cooled a bit. Read my article for more details.
Source: Theodore Gray
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 1 September, 2003
Price: $5
Size: 4"
Purity: 99.99%
Bismuth Stunning crystal

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Stunning crystal.
I don't care what any mineral snobs say, man-made bismuth crystals are just about the most beautiful crystals in the world, and this is a good example of that. Huge, shiny, incredibly complex and mysterious, and actually rather quick to make once you have the temperature conditions worked out just so. This crystal probably grew in at most a few minutes. The maker has a nice website where he sells many very nice crystals.
Source: eBay seller kskt4
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 1 September, 2003
Text Updated: 11 August, 2007
Price: $21
Size: 4"
Purity: 99.99%
Bismuth Link in multi-metal chain

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Link in multi-metal chain.
I had been wondering about how hard it would be to make a multi-part graphite mold with which I could cast chain links around each other. That is, given an existing link, cast a new one interlinked with it. This turns out to be quite do-able: Here is the mold I made (using my drill press as a vertical mill and a round-ended router bit):

In case you ever want to try this, I'll give you an important hint: The third link is the real test, not the second one.

Using this mold I have cast a chain out of all the metals I can easily cast. Click the Sample Group link below to see all the links together.

This chain (counted as one sample) is the 600th sample added to my collection.

Source: eBay seller kingendymion
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 9 August, 2003
Text Updated: 20 February, 2006
Price: $1/pound
Size: 3"
Purity: 99.99%
Sample Group: Multi-metal Chain
Bismuth Crystals made from bismuth shot

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Crystals made from bismuth shot.
I made this assortment of crystal clusters using bismuth shot (see previous two samples) which is only about 97% bismuth. It forms hopper crystal like pure bismuth (see earlier samples), but much smaller ones. Interestingly, you can clearly see flashes of light across large areas of some of these pucks, which indicate that crystal formation was coordinated over a much longer distance than the size of the individual squares. I'm not sure what this means.
Here's a close-up of one of the hopper crystals:

Source: Precision Reloading
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 30 May, 2002
Price: $80/7 pounds for bismuth shot
Size: 3"
Purity: 97%
Bismuth Mini periodic table table for Popular Science

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Mini periodic table table for Popular Science.
In early 2003 I got an email from an editor at Popular Science column asking if I'd like to write a monthly column. Of course I said yes, and the second article (in the August, 2003 issue) is a story about lost wax casting as I did it when I was fifteen or so. For the photographs in the article I made a few little periodic table tables out of various metals: This one is made of the above bismuth shot, and I also made ones out of copper, zinc, and silver.
Source: Precision Reloading
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 30 May, 2003
Price: $80/7 pounds for bismuth shot
Size: 3"
Purity: 97%
The Elements book Mad Science book Periodic Table Poster  Click here to buy a book, photographic periodic table poster, card deck, or 3D print based on the images you see here!
Bismuth Safe shotgun shot

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"Safe" shotgun shot.
These are pellets from a seven pound bottle of shot sold for "reloading", which is the process of making your own ammunition by combining cartridge cases (new or refurbished), primer, propellant and shot. Lead shot and bullets have been banned in many areas because they poison the environment. The main substitute materials are steel, bismuth and tungsten. Bismuth is very similar to lead in density, melting point, hardness, etc, so it makes a pretty direct replacement, unlike tungsten which is much denser, much harder, and completely impossible to melt under any kind of reasonable conditions.

Unlike lead, bismuth is highly crystalline and brittle: This means that solid bullets made of bismuth shatter into dust on impact with hard surfaces, which in turn means that bismuth ammunition is sold as safer for use in urban environments or other places where ricochet would be bad. Safe being a relative term in connection with bullets.

Source: Precision Reloading
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 30 May, 2003
Price: $80/7 pounds
Size: 0.1"
Purity: 97%
Bismuth Sample from Wooden Book

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Sample from Wooden Book.
Max Whitby and I talked about publishing a wooden book/CD/DVD/mini element collection, but it didn't go anywhere. It would have consisted of a nicely engraved wooden "book" with a CD and DVD version of the website (for those with slower internet connections), and a set of nine safe, interesting elements in the form of cylinders, cast blocks, nodules, and the like. Think of it sort of like a mineral collection, except it's an element collection and it comes in a much nicer box. Here are a couple of pictures of the prototype:


This cylinder is one of the samples that we plan to include in the product.

Source: Max Whitby of RGB
Contributor: Max Whitby of RGB
Acquired: 12 May, 2003
Text Updated: 11 August, 2007
Price: Donated
Size: 0.5"
Purity: 99.9%
Bismuth Pellets

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Pellets.
These pellets have a nice feel to them, heavy, slightly soft, just very satisfying to hold. They are also a good inexpensive source for high purity bismuth metal (click Source link for details).
Source: United Nuclear
Contributor: United Nuclear
Acquired: 11 April, 2003
Price: $18/pound
Size: 1"
Purity: 99.99%
Bismuth Sample from the Everest Set

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Sample from the Everest Set.
Up until the early 1990's a company in Russia sold a periodic table collection with element samples. At some point their American distributor sold off the remaining stock to a man who is now selling them on eBay. The samples (except gases) weigh about 0.25 grams each, and the whole set comes in a very nice wooden box with a printed periodic table in the lid.

To learn more about the set you can visit my page about element collecting for a general description and information about how to buy one, or you can see photographs of all the samples from the set displayed on my website in a periodic table layout or with bigger pictures in numerical order.

Source: Rob Accurso
Contributor: Rob Accurso
Acquired: 7 February, 2003
Text Updated: 18 January, 2009
Price: Donated
Size: 0.2"
Purity: >99%
Bismuth Sample from the RGB Set

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Sample from the RGB Set.
The Red Green and Blue company in England sells a very nice element collection in several versions. Max Whitby, the director of the company, very kindly donated a complete set to the periodic table table.

To learn more about the set you can visit my page about element collecting for a general description or the company's website which includes many photographs and pricing details. I have two photographs of each sample from the set: One taken by me and one from the company. You can see photographs of all the samples displayed in a periodic table format: my pictures or their pictures. Or you can see both side-by-side with bigger pictures in numerical order.

The picture on the left was taken by me. Here is the company's version (there is some variation between sets, so the pictures sometimes show different variations of the samples):


Source: Max Whitby of RGB
Contributor: Max Whitby of RGB
Acquired: 25 January, 2003
Text Updated: 11 August, 2007
Price: Donated
Size: 0.2"
Purity: 99.9%
The Elements book Mad Science book Periodic Table Poster  Click here to buy a book, photographic periodic table poster, card deck, or 3D print based on the images you see here!
Bismuth Home-made bismuth

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Home-made bismuth.
I made some home-made bismuth crystals, but Tryggvi made home-made bismuth. He needed some bismuth metal one day, but only had some kind of bismuth salt. So he worked out a reaction and precipitated it, then he had bismuth metal.

Click the source link for an interesting story about where this sample came from.
Source: Tryggvi Emilsson and Timothy Brumleve
Contributor: Tryggvi Emilsson and Timothy Brumleve
Acquired: 6 September, 2002
Price: Donated
Size: 1"
Purity: >99%
Bismuth Home-grown crystals

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Home-grown crystals.
This small dish of crystals was made from the reagent-grade metal that is the first sample under bismuth. Ed Pegg and I had made several nicer ones long before, but I wanted to make a video showing how you let the metal partially harden, then pour off the still-molten center to reveal the crystals forming from the bottom and outside.
For some reason, this time the metal behaved quite differently. It may have become contaminated with enough of an impurity (lead?) to change its characteristics, or the difference may have had to do with the fact that I was using a plumber's propane torch to heat it, rather than an electric kiln as before.
(I wasn't exactly being careful to control the conditions, as making this video was another one of the things I had to do between bouts of child care.)
In any case, the biggest difference was that this time, it did not form the pretty colored oxide layers. Instead the metal stayed absolutely bright, forming only a dull gray oxide film that was easily skimmed off before it started cooling.
The other difference was that the crystals were smaller, though they were still obviously bismuth-shaped square hopper crystals. This is almost certainly due to less-clean cups and more contamination in the form of particles that initiate crystals from many places at once.
Still, I got a decent dish of crystals, and a decent video of it. Click the story book icon for more details on the procedure for making the crystals.
Source: Theodore Gray
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 11 August, 2002
Price: $10
Size: 2"
Purity: 99.9%
Bismuth Small crystal,  99.999%

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Small crystal, 99.999%.
Kindly donated by David Franco, who sent many elements after seeing the slashdot discussion, and this one after I sent him some Mathematica t-shirts.
This is a nice example of a hopper crystal. Not as big as our other samples, but much more pure of course, since it came from David.
Source: David Franco
Contributor: David Franco
Acquired: 11 June, 2002
Price: Donated
Size: 0.2"
Purity: 99.999%
Bismuth Eggs

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Eggs.
These lovely artificially grown bismuth eggs show what you can do if you learn to control the conditions of crystallization. Based on our experiments, I think it's safe to say these probably take just a few minutes each to make, once you get the system down.
Source: Mr. Bismuth
Contributor: Ed Pegg Jr
Acquired: 15 April, 2002
Price: $20
Size: 2"
Purity: >99%
Bismuth Reagent-grade metal

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Reagent-grade metal.
Around 2001 Stephen Wolfram asked Ed Pegg and me if we could experiment with growing hopper crystals with bismuth. Ed bought some from Alfa Aesar and I brought in my small electric kiln to the office. We were able to create crystals almost immediately: Simply pouring into a stainless steel measuring cup, allowing to cool until the outer edge is solid, then pouring the center off is all it takes. We made several nice small hopper crystals, and it's obvious that one could make any number just by refining the conditions and using more bismuth.
See the fourth sample for a picture of one dish of crystals I made, along with a video showing how the liquid metal is poured off from the crystals.
Source: Alfa Aesar
Contributor: Ed Pegg Jr
Acquired: 15 April, 2002
Price: $100/Kg
Size: 2"
Purity: 99.9%
The Elements book Mad Science book Periodic Table Poster  Click here to buy a book, photographic periodic table poster, card deck, or 3D print based on the images you see here!
Bismuth Palladobismutharsenide

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Palladobismutharsenide.
A sample of the mineral Palladobismutharsenide.
Source: Jensan Scientifics
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 17 October, 2009
Text Updated: 18 October, 2009
Price: Anonymous
Size: 0.5"
Composition: Pd2(As,Bi)
Bismuth Bismuth Germanate crystal

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Bismuth Germanate crystal.
Bismuth germanate crystals like this one are used in scintillation detectors.
Source: eBay seller mc17cyclotron
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 2 April, 2009
Text Updated: 3 April, 2009
Price: $40
Size: 1.5"
Composition: Bi4Ge3O12
Bismuth Photo Card Deck of the Elements

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Photo Card Deck of the Elements.
In late 2006 I published a photo periodic table and it's been selling well enough to encourage me to make new products. This one is a particularly neat one: A complete card deck of the elements with one big five-inch (12.7cm) square card for every element. If you like this site and all the pictures on it, you'll love this card deck. And of course if you're wondering what pays for all the pictures and the internet bandwidth to let you look at them, the answer is people buying my posters and cards decks. Hint hint.
Source: Theodore Gray
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 19 November, 2008
Text Updated: 21 November, 2008
Price: $35
Size: 5"
Composition: HHeLiBeBCNOFNeNaMg AlSiPSClArKCaScTiVCrMn FeCoNiCuZnGaGeAsSeBrKr RbSrYZrNbMoTcRuRhPdAg CdInSnSbTeIXeCsBaLaCePr NdPmSmEuGdTbDyHoErTm YbLuHfTaWReOsIrPtAuHgTl PbBiPoAtRnFrRaAcThPaUNp PuAmCmBkCfEsFmMdNoLrRf DbSgBhHsMtDsRgUubUutUuq UupUuhUusUuo
Bismuth Bismuthinite from Jensan Set

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Bismuthinite from Jensan Set.
This sample represents bismuth in the "The Grand Tour of the Periodic Table" mineral collection from Jensan Scientifics. Visit my page about element collecting for a general description, or see photographs of all the samples from the set in a periodic table layout or with bigger pictures in numerical order.
Source: Jensan Scientifics
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 30 October, 2008
Text Updated: 31 October, 2008
Price: Anonymous
Size: 1"
Composition: Bi2S3
Bismuth Bismuthite

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Bismuthite.
Description from the source:
Bismuthite (Bi2 (CO3) O2 tet.), Beresovsk, Urals, Russia. Prismatic, elongated, light green crystals as alteration on bismuth sulphosalts, associated with very small Gold masses. 4x2,5x2,5 cm; 33 g.
Source: Simone Citon
Contributor: John Gray
Acquired: 30 September, 2008
Text Updated: 1 October, 2008
Price: Trade
Size: 1.6"
Composition: Bi2(CO3)O2
The Elements book Mad Science book Periodic Table Poster  Click here to buy a book, photographic periodic table poster, card deck, or 3D print based on the images you see here!
Bismuth Native Bismuth

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Native Bismuth.
Description from the source:
Bismuth (Bi trig.), Alberoda, Saxen, Germany. Section crystals on Skutterudit matrix, rich example. 2,5x2x2 cm; 18 g.
Source: Simone Citon
Contributor: John Gray
Acquired: 26 September, 2008
Text Updated: 28 September, 2008
Price: Trade
Size: 1"
Composition: Bi
Bismuth Native Bismuth

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Native Bismuth.
Description from the source:
Bismuth (Bi trig.), Wolfram Camp, Dimbulah, Mareeba Shire, Queensland, Australia. Partial crystals on Quartz matrix. 2,8x2,4x2 cm; 20 g.
Source: Simone Citon
Contributor: John Gray
Acquired: 26 September, 2008
Text Updated: 28 September, 2008
Price: Trade
Size: 1.1"
Composition: Bi
Bismuth Field's metal crust

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Field's metal crust.
Nice smooth samples of the elements are boring if you ask me. They just don't make for interesting photographs, and the more symmetrical they are the less interesting it is to see them rotated around a full circle (which is how I photograph all new samples these days). This crust of Field's Metal (named after Simon Quellen Field, who runs scitoys.com) is a perfect example: I scraped it from the side of a jar at Simon's house, and it's got a much more interesting texture than a plain melted piece. Plus if you look at the rotation video you can see a completely different kind of surface on the other side.
Source: Simon Quellen Field
Contributor: Simon Quellen Field
Acquired: 4 September, 2007
Text Updated: 6 September, 2007
Price: Donated
Size: 1"
Composition: InBiSn
Bismuth BiTeEr lump

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BiTeEr lump.
This is a roughly bullet-shaped lump of what is described on the envelope it came in as about half Bi, half Te, and a trace of Er. Actually the exact percentages are given, but in deference to whoever discarded this item I'm not listing them, in case they represent some kind of secret formula for making really good lumps of metal, or something. Ethan seems to have gotten into a batch of strange tellurium compounds someone at his university was throwing away: I'm going to be listing more of them soon.
Reader Anders Mikkelsen suggests that this alloy may have been used in research into Peltier junctions.
Source: Ethan Currens
Contributor: Ethan Currens
Acquired: 18 March, 2007
Text Updated: 28 March, 2009
Price: Donated
Size: 1"
Composition: BiTeEr
Bismuth Field's metal

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Field's metal.
Field's metal is a low-melting-point alloy, which will melt in hot water. It's named after Simon Quellen Field, who runs scitoys.com, a great site for educational and scientific toys and kits. He sells this alloy in the form of lengths of metal-filled plastic tubing, which you can easily melt or cut it out of.
Source: Simon Quellen Field
Contributor: Simon Quellen Field
Acquired: 13 February, 2007
Text Updated: 14 February, 2007
Price: Donated
Size: 5"
Composition: InBiSn
The Elements book Mad Science book Periodic Table Poster  Click here to buy a book, photographic periodic table poster, card deck, or 3D print based on the images you see here!
Bismuth Student's report on crystal making

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Student's report on crystal making. (External Sample)
Jon Smith is a high school student who decided to write a science report on the factors influencing crystal formation in cooling bismuth. I think he did a really nice job: See for yourself. I particularly like the picture: Good thing bismuth isn't toxic considering this is obviously the family kitchen, complete with bread in the background.
The state of math and science education in this country is absolutely abysmal. At my kid's primary school they actually call the math curriculum "BS Math", which is an accurate description except for the fact that there is no actual math in the curriculum. (For some reason they always refer to it as BSM or Beginning School Math, but BS Math is by far the most appropriate form of the name.) There are many causes for the current horrible state of affairs, but I'm not going to get into that because seeing a nice student report like this gives one hope that maybe all is not lost.
This is what students all over should be doing: Something real. Doesn't have to be melting metal in the kitchen, just something real. I think it's great that there is at least one kid left in the country who isn't watching television instead of living.
Location: America
Photographed: 11 January, 2004
Size: 11"
Purity: 99.99%
Bismuth Native bismuth

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Native bismuth. (External Sample)
Natural bismuth lump.
Location: The Harvard Museum of Natural History
Photographed: 2 October, 2002
Size: 2
Purity: >90%
Bismuth Native bismuth

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Native bismuth. (External Sample)
Natural bismuth lump.
Location: The Harvard Museum of Natural History
Photographed: 2 October, 2002
Size: 5
Purity: >90%
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