Encyclopedia of Metalloproteins

2013 Edition
| Editors: Robert H. Kretsinger, Vladimir N. Uversky, Eugene A. Permyakov

Barium, Physical and Chemical Properties

Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-1533-6_167

Synonyms

Definition

The heaviest nonradioactive member of the alkaline-earth elements (atomic number 56), barium is a soft, silvery, highly reactive metal. Its compounds have various uses, particularly in drilling fluids, paints, glasses, and pyrotechnics, but all soluble compounds of barium are toxic to mammals. The insoluble barium sulfate is used as a radiocontrast agent in medical imaging.

Background

Barium is a member of the alkaline-earth family of metals (Group 2 in the periodic table). It is a relatively common element, ranking approximately 14th in natural abundance in the Earth’s crust; it is more plentiful than, for example, sulfur or zinc. The free metal does not occur in nature, but is found combined in minerals such as barite (barium sulfate, BaSO 4) (Fig.  1), or less commonly, in witherite (barium carbonate, BaCO 3). The density of such compounds (i.e., BaSO 4, 4.5 g cm −3; BaCO 3, 4.3 g cm −3) has long been reflected in their names;...
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of ChemistryVanderbilt UniversityNashvilleUSA