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Applications for tantalum

Tantalum consumption is dominated by capacitors for electronic equipment. Capacitors are electrical components that store energy electrostatically in an electric field, and are used in a wide variety of electric and electronic products. Capacitors are an essential part of almost all electronic products, ranging from smart phones to appliances in our homes, electronic systems in our cars and wind turbines producing electricity.

Additionally, tantalum wire is consumed by the capacitor manufacturers as the anode lead. Tantalum metal is also used for sintering tray assemblies and shielding components for the anode sintering furnaces.

Capacitor grade tantalum powder provides about 25% of the market use of all tantalum shipments. Additional quantities related to capacitors are consumed by tantalum wire for the anode lead as well as for sintering tray assemblies and shielding components for the anode sintering furnaces.

Other non-capacitor uses in electronics create demand for tantalum mill products for sputtering targets and tantalum chemicals for audio and video components.

Tantalum Product Application Technical Attributes/Benefits
Tantalum carbide Cutting tools Increased high temperature deformation, control of grain growth
Lithium tantalate Surface Acoustic Wave (SAW) filters in mobile phones, hi-fi stereos and televisions Electronic signal wave dampening provides for clearer and crisper audio and video output
Tantalum oxide - Lenses for spectacles, digital cameras and mobile phones
- X-ray film
- Ink jet printers
- Ta2O5 provides a high index of refraction so lenses for a given focal strength can be thinner and smaller
- Yttrium tantalate phosphor reduces X-ray exposure and enhances image quality
- Wear resistance characteristics. Integrated capacitors in integrated circuits (ICs)
Tantalum powder Tantalum capacitors for electronic circuits in:
- medical appliances such as hearing aids and pacemakers;
- automotive components such as ABS, airbag activation, engine management modules, GPS;
- portable electronics e.g. laptop computers, cellular/mobile phones, video cameras, digital still cameras;
- other equipment such as DVD players, flat screen TVs, games consoles, battery chargers, power rectifiers, cellular/mobile phone signal masts, oil well probes
High reliability characteristics and low failure rates, operation over a wide temperature range from -55 to +200°C, can withstand severe vibrational forces, small size per microfarad rating/electrical storage capability
Tantalum fabricated sheets and
- Chemical process equipment including lining, cladding, tanks, valves, heat exchangers
- Cathodic protection systems for steel structures such as bridges, water tanks
- Corrosion resistant fasteners, screws, nuts, bolts
- Spinnerettes in synthetic textile manufacture
Superior corrosion resistance - equivalent in performance to glass
Tantalum fabricated sheets, plates, rods, wires - Prosthetic devices for humans - hip joints, skull plates, mesh to repair bone removed after damage by cancer, suture clips, stents for blood vessels Attack by body fluids is non-existent; highly bio-compatible
Tantalum fabricated sheets, plates, rods, wires - High temperature furnace parts Melting point is 2996°C although protective atmosphere or high vacuum required
Tantalum ingot - Sputtering targets Applications of thin coatings of tantalum, tantalum oxide or nitride coatings to semi-conductors to prevent copper migration
Tantalum fabricated sheets, plates, rods, wires - High temperature alloys for:
- air and land based turbines (e.g. jet engine discs, blades and vanes)
- rocket nozzles
Alloy compositions containing 3-11% tantalum offer resistance to corrosion by hot gases, allow higher operating temperatures and thus efficiency and fuel economy
Tantalum ingot - Computer hard drive discs An alloy containing 6% tantalum has shape memory properties
Tantalum ingot - Explosively Formed Projectile for TOW-2 missile Balance of density and formability allow for a lighter and more efficient system


Rare and unusual applications


Super-conducting high-entropy alloys (HEAs)

An alloy of tantalum, niobium, hafnium, zirconium and titanium has been shown to conduct electricity with zero resistance, or superconduct, from ambient pressure up to pressures similar to those that exist near the center of the Earth. The material is a member of a new family of metal alloys known as high-entropy alloys (HEAs), which are composed of random atomic-scale mixtures of elements from the block of "transition metals" on the periodic table. HEAs have simple crystal structures, but the metals are arranged randomly on the lattice points, giving each alloy the properties of a both a glass and a crystalline material. The HEA studied in this work is unique in that it can superconduct continuously from low to high pressures. This discovery was made by a group of scientists from the Institute of Physics at the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Chemistry Department at Princeton University. Further information is available here.

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