Selenium Facts

Selenium Facts
Selenium (Se) is an element with an atomic number of thirty-four. This non-toxic, non-metallic element has thirty-four protons in the nucleus and is regarded as an essential trace element.
Interesting Selenium Facts:
Selenium was discovered in 1817 by Swedish chemist Jons Jacob Berzelius.
Due to the smell of the precipitate during burning, Berzelius originally thought he was working with tellurium.
When he realized there were no other tellurium compounds in the mine where the sample originated, Berzelius recognized that selenium was a new element.
Nearly sixty years later, Willoughby Smith discovered that selenium reacted to light.
Its use as a light sensor began in the 1870s.
Alexander Graham Bell used selenium to produce the photophone in 1879.
The selenium photophone allowed speech patterns to be transmitted on a beam of light.
It is also used today in solar technology, glass manufacturing, and alloys.
Selenium in its natural elemental state is rare.
Selenium does not readily form strong crystals.
The abundant mineral selenite actually does not contain the element selenium; they simply share the name from the Greek word for "moon."
It has several allotropes, which convert to each other at different temperatures.
Selenium has six isotopes in nature, but only five of those isotopes are stable.
The remaining unstable isotope of selenium actually has a half-life of one quintillion years, which makes it almost considered to be stable.
Twenty-three other unstable isotopes of selenium are known to exist.
While selenium is toxic in high doses, it appears to be a necessary nutrient in plants and animals.
Selenium plays a role in enzyme production in humans.
Certain plants require very high levels of selenium to survive, and are therefore good indicators of high selenium content in the soil in nature.
Around 2000 tons of selenium are extracted annually around the world.
Germany typically produces the most selenium each year, while China actually consumes the most for industrial purposes.

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