|APS||<40um( can be customized)|
|Melting Point||2468 °C|
|Boiling Point||4742 °C|
Niobium, formerly known as Columbia, is a chemical element with the symbol Nb (Cb above) and atomic number 41. It is a soft transition metal, gray crystalline, ductile, which is often found in pyrochlore and mineral columbite, hence the previous name “columbium”. Its name derives from Greek mythology, in particular, Niobe, who was the daughter of Tantalus, the homonym of tantalum. The name reflects the great similarity between the two elements in their physical and chemical properties, which makes them difficult to distinguish.
The English chemist Charles Hatchett reported a new element similar to the tantalum in 1801 and called it columbium. In 1809, the British chemist William Hyde Wollaston erroneously concluded that tantalum and niobium were identical. German chemist Heinrich Rose determined in 1846 that the minerals containing tantalum a second element, which he called the niobium. In 1864 and 1865, a series of scientific discoveries made clear that niobium and columbium were the same elements (unlike tantalum), and for a century, both names were used interchangeably. Niobium was officially adopted as the name of the element in 1949, but the name remains columbium current use in metallurgy in the United States.
It was not until the beginning of the 20th century that niobium was used commercially for the first time. Brazil is the leading producer of niobium and ferroniobium, an alloy of niobium with iron between 60 and 70%. Niobium is used mainly in alloys, most of it in special steel like the one used in pipelines. Although these alloys contain a maximum of 0.1%, the small percentage of niobium increases the strength of the steel. The temperature stability of super-alloys containing niobium is important for use in jet engines and rockets.
Niobium is used in various superconducting materials. These superconducting alloys, also containing titanium and tin, are widely used in the superconducting magnets of MRI scanners. Other applications of niobium include welding, the nuclear industry, electronics, optics, numismatics, and jewelry. In the last two applications, the low toxicity and iridescence produced by anodizing are highly desired properties.