Elements and their uses

Atomic structure of sodium (Na)Atomic structure of sodium (Na)An element is a substance made up of atoms of the same type. It cannot be broken down into simpler substances. Different elements have different characteristics, which are determined by the number of subatomic particles (protons, neutrons and electrons) they have. Scientists have found approximately 100 natural elements so far; a further 15 or so artificial kinds have been made by scientists in laboratories. These elements are divided into metals, semi-metals and non-metals. An atom is the smallest part of an element that can exist. All the elements have been arranged in a table, called the Periodic Table, in order of their atomic numbers—the number of protons an element has in each of its atoms. Elements in the same group on the Table have similar properties.

Aluminium foilAluminium foil


Aluminium (chemical symbol Al; atomic number 13) is a poor metal, also called a “post-transition metal”. Like the other poor metals, it is soft. Aluminium has low density (is “light”) and is a good thermal and electrical conductor. As a result, aluminium is widely used in vehicle and plane construction, drinks cans and power lines. Since aluminium bonds very easily with oxygen, it is rarely found as a pure element. Most aluminium is obtained from bauxite ore. 

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