The key difference between gallium and mercury is that gallium has a very low density compared to mercury.
Gallium and mercury are unique chemical elements that occur in the liquid state at near room temperature. It’s important to note that mercury is essentially a liquid at room temperature while gallium becomes liquid at temperatures near room temperature. They melt easily due to their low melting temperature values.
What is Gallium?
Gallium is a chemical element having atomic number 31 and chemical symbol Ga. It is a very soft metal that appears in silvery-white colour. This chemical element is in group 13 of the periodic table and is a p-block element. And, the electron configuration of gallium is [Ar]3d104s24p1.
Gallium occurs in the solid-state at room temperature but easily converts into the liquid state at near room temperature (the melting point of this metal is about 29 Celsius degrees). It melts easily on our hand because its melting point is well below the body temperature of a healthy human. Moreover, this metal does not occur as a free element in nature. Naturally, it occurs in chemical compounds in its +3 oxidation state. These compounds can be found in zinc ores and bauxite mineral.
We can easily obtain gallium through smelting processes of mineral deposits. In its very pure state, gallium can fracture conchoidally similar to glass. Upon solidification, gallium expands by 3% from its liquid state. Therefore, we should not store liquid gallium in small containers because the container can rupture when gallium solidifies.
Moreover, gallium is produced as a byproduct during the processing of ores of other metals. The major source of gallium is bauxite. It is the chief metal ore for aluminum metal. Bayer process is the industrial process where aluminum is extracted from the ore while producing gallium as the byproduct.
There are many important applications of gallium, including the manufacture of semiconductor materials, manufacture of gadolinium gallium garnets, production of gallium alloys, biomedical applications, and neutrino detection.
What is Mercury?
Mercury is the chemical element having the symbol Hg and atomic number 80. It is the only metallic element that occurs in its liquid state at room temperature and pressure conditions. It appears as a shiny, silvery liquid. We can find mercury in mineral deposits, in the form of mercuric sulfide. However, this metal is an extremely rare element on Earth’s crust.
Mercury can be observed as a heavy liquid metal that has a poor conductivity of electricity compared to other metals. However, solid mercury is malleable and ductile and can be cut with a knife. This chemical element does not react with most acids such as dilute sulfuric acid, but some oxidizing acids such as concentrated sulfuric acid and nitric acid, aqua regia can dissolve this metal to give sulfate, nitrate and chloride forms of mercury. Moreover, mercury can dissolve many metals such as gold and silver, forming amalgams.
What is the Difference Between Gallium and Mercury?
Gallium and mercury are well-known metals that easily melt due to their low melting temperature values. Gallium easily melts on our hand because its melting temperature is well below our body temperature. Mercury is already a liquid at room temperature. Nevertheless, the key difference between gallium and mercury is that gallium has a very low density compared to mercury.
The below info-graphic tabulates the differences between gallium and mercury.
Summary – Gallium vs Mercury
Gallium easily melts on our hand because its melting temperature is well below our body temperature. Mercury is already a liquid at room temperature. The key difference between gallium and mercury is that gallium has a very low density compared to mercury.
“Gallium.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 9 Jan. 2021, Available here.