1875 Gallium

The book of science

Tom Sharp

ParisPaul-Émile Lecoq de Boisbaudran elements Gallium


Dmitri Mendeleev predicted gallium and called it “ekaaluminium.” Paul-Émile Lecoq de Boisbaudran discovered gallium in a sample of sphalerite by its two violet spectral lines and he subsequently isolated it using electrolysis of gallium hydroxide.

Atomic number 31

Unusual metal alloys, high-speed semiconductors, and artificial garnets.

Bizarre stuff

If you handle the metal, extremely fine droplets of liquid gallium wet your skin. This kind of thing, bizarre and independent, does not exist in our normal experience.

Gallium was the first element that was discovered with a spectroscope but was not named after its color. Although “gallus” is Latin for rooster (“le coq” in French), Lecoq declared that he named gallium after “Gallia,” the Latin name for Gaul (that is, France).

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