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General Info
Atomic Symbol Atomic symbol::Be
Atomic Number Atomic number::4
Atomic Weight Atomic weight::9.012182 g/mol
Chemical series Alkaline earth metals
Appearance White-gray metallic
Group, Period, Block 2, 2, S
Electron configuration 1s2 2s2
Electrons per shell 2, 2
Electron shell Beryllium.png
CAS number CAS number::7440-41-7
Physical properties
Phase solid
Density Density::1.85 g/ml
Melting point Melting point::1560 K
Boiling point Boiling point::2742K
Isotopes of Beryllium
iso NA half-life DT DE (MeV) DP
7Be trace 53.12 d ε 0.862 7Li
7Be trace 53.12 d γ 0.477
9Be 100% 9Be is stable with 5 neutrons.
10Be trace 1.51×106 y β- 0.556 10B
All properties are for STP unless otherwise stated.

Beryllium is a chemical element known by the chemical symbol "Be". It is an Alkaline earth metal found in the second column of the periodic table along with Magnesium, Calcium, Strontium, Barium, and Radium [1]. Although bearing the atomic number of four, Beryllium remains highly nonreactive with other elements. Beryllium was only recently discovered by mankind; French chemist Louis-Nicholas Vauquelin first discovered Beryllium ore in 1798. In the days of Loius-Nicholas, tasting an element was necessary in categorizing and identifying it. Because Beryllium had a sweet taste like sugar when tasted, the element was first named glucinium. Beryllium remains highly toxic to humans, so consumption is not recommended [2]. Beryllium is a poor conductor of both heat and electricity when in its natural state, but with the oxidation of Beryllium, these properties are endowed.


A large sample of Beryllium

Beryllium is a metallic gray colored metal located in the second row of the Periodic Table [3]. As opposed to other light metals, Beryllium has a very high melting point [4]. When alloyed with other elements such as copper or nickel, it becomes increasingly resistant to wear and corrosion [5]. Natural Beryllium conducts heat inefficiently, but this ability along with magnetism and electrical conductivity are endowed when the metal alloys with other metals [4]. Beryllium has a hexagonal atomic structure, making the element especially sturdy (approximately six times stronger than steel) yet somewhat brittle [6] [2]. Out of all the metals on the periodic table, only Lithium is a lighter metal than Beryllium [7].

Beryllium defies corrosion and oxidation in air and water as a result of a hard oxide layer that forms on its surface [8]. Despite the fact that most row two elements are highly reactive, a sample of Beryllium remains generally unreactive due to the oxide layer that forms over its exterior [9]. Beryllium has a somewhat sugary taste, but should avoid being ingested due to its toxic and cancer-causing qualities [8]. Exposure to Beryllium can cause a deadly disorder known as berylliosis. This disorder causes death in 20% of those who suffer it [10]. Some people harbor allergies to Beryllium, in which case inhalation or exposure to Beryllium in a metallic dust form can cause an illness known as Chronic Beryllium Disease, or CBD. Sufferers of this disease often experience symptoms such as persistent cough, fatigue, and joint pain as a reaction between the Beryllium and the infected person’s immune system [7].


Beryllium ore

Unlike some metals, Beryllium cannot be found in the earth in its pure state naturally. Typically, Beryllium is found within about thirty other different minerals found in the earth’s crust. Beryllium is usually extracted from an ore, a rock that contains other minerals or metals within it. Typically, ores are mined for profit [11]. The most common ores Beryllium is extracted from are beryl ores like bertrandite. Commercially, Beryllium ores are primarily mined in one location in the United States of America; a plant in Delta, Utah [12]. Beryllium can also be found in some semi-precious gemstones, such as aquamarine and emerald. Beryllium compound deposits are strewn among the earth’s crust, occurring in igneous sections of rock at about .0002% [13].


Giant reflective mirrors used for space telescope technology

Ironically, Beryllium is used extensively in the medical field despite its toxicity and potential deadliness to humans who inhale or consume it. Ceramics made from Beryllium aid in the proficiency of medical lasers used to restore sight. In pacemakers, Beryllium is alloyed with other metals to provide support for the flexible, and thus vulnerable, sections of machinery [2]. While conducting blood analysis for diseases such as HIV and others, Beryllium provides the insight doctors require [14]. Beryllium also aids the world of transportation. The use of Beryllium ceramics in vehicle ignition systems improves fuel efficiency, to the point of completely removing the cost of one out of every five cars on the road [2]. Airplanes require the strength only Beryllium can provide for its landing gears and wing flaps. Giant reflective Beryllium mirrors are used by NASA to produce sharp images when taking pictures of the galaxies [15]. Beryllium also aids in the production of nuclear energy. Certain nuclear reactors use sodium as a coolant to cool components in a reactor and the water that runs through the network of pipes. Because of sodium's corrosive capabilities, Beryllium is used to provide strength to tubes because of its noncorrosive properties [16].

Beryllium is also used highly in the category of national security. Unmanned airplanes use Beryllium to create the high-resolution data and image feed it requires to target with extreme capability. Beryllium components in long-range radars allow for the detection of weapons at a grater distance, giving critical insight to the situations before a soldier. In tanks, Beryllium vibration absorption mirrors provides stability in a shaky mobile all-terrain vehicle, which helps with aim for firing [2]. Because of Beryllium's nonmagnetic properties, naval mines are commonly constructed with Beryllium elements to prevent ignition during production [17]. Even in nuclear weapons, Beryllium's ability to moderate the neutrons within it allows for a better control of fission reactions [2].

X-ray Technology

While Beryllium is used for the manufacturing and reinforcing of several products and industries, the element plays a very large role in the functioning of X-rays. X-ray machines used to scan for cancerous tissues within the body are aided by Beryllium. Beryllium allows for lower radiation X-ray scans and gives better resolution when searching for tumors in the breast. This contribution helps save lives by making detecting cancer in its young, treatable stage a possibility. Even X-ray airport security systems and X-rays used for mining minerals and fuel rely on Beryllium [2]. Beryllium's very low assimilation of X-rays makes this element a great option for directing X-rays [17]. These Beryllium objects used to direct X-rays are typically called windows. The window is vacuum-sealed, but allows X-rays to leak through in a specific desired amount. X-rays used to scan for toxic metals in childrens' toys would function at a much lower rate without Beryllium windows [2].


  1. .Bentor, Yinon. Alkaline-earth. Chemicalelements. Web. Accessed December 11, 2012.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 Author Unknown Beryllium: The Miracle Metal. Materion. Web. Accessed November 25, 2012.
  3. Winter, Mark. Beryllium: the essentials. Webelements. Web. Accessed November 25, 2012.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Helmenstine, Anne Marie. Beryllium Facts. Chemistry. Web. Accessed November 25, 2012.
  5. Gagnon, Steve. The Element Beryllium. Education. Web. Accessed November 25, 2012.
  6. Bentor Yinon. Periodic Table: Beryllium. Chemicalelements. Web. Accessed November 25, 2012.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Author Unknown. Beryllium. Osha. Web. Accessed November 25, 2012.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Stewart, Doug. Beryllium Element Facts. Chemicool. Web. Accessed November 25, 2012.
  9. Clark, Jim Reactions of the Group 2 Elements with Water. Chemguide. Web. Accessed November 25, 2012.
  10. Author Unknown. Beryllium - Be. Lenntech. Web. Accessed November 25, 2012.
  11. .Author Unknown What is an ore?. Shaking-table. Web. Accessed December 11, 2012.
  12. Author Unknown. Beryllium. Chemistryexplained. Web. Accessed November 25, 2012.
  13. Curley, Robert. beryllium (Be). Britannica. Web. Accessed November 25, 2012.
  14. Unknown Author. Uses & Applications of Beryllium. Web. Accessed December 10, 2012.
  15. David, Leonard. Mirrors Finished for NASA's New James Webb Space Telescope. Space. Web. Accessed December 11, 2012.
  16. Unknown Author. Beryllium. Wisc. Web. Accessed December 10, 2012.
  17. 17.0 17.1 Deshpande, Amruta. Beryllium Uses. Buzzle. Web. Accessed December 10, 2012.