Molybdenum 

Atomic number: 42

Symbol: Mo

Category: transition metal

Density at 25°C: solid:  10.28 g·cm−3

Most molybdenum is used in pigments and for catalysts usually in high temperature situations. It is also used extensively in steel alloys.  It is also important for some bacteria to fix nitrogen from the atmosphere. 


Molybdenum crystal fragment. image: adapted from wikipedia

It has been suggested that highly oxidised Mo might have been crucial for catalysts in the first forms of life, particularly on early Mars and not early Earth. This is according to studies by Professor Benner, from the Westheimer Institute for Science and Technology in Gainesville, Florida.


Use, natural applications or common combinations: 

  • Steel alloys
  • Cauliflower fertiliser
  • Bacteria


Basic characteristics:

  • Standard atomic weight: 95.96(2)
  • Melting point: 2623 °C
  • Boiling point: 4639 °C
  • Radioactivity: most naturally stable
    • 98Mo 24% is radioactive with double beta decay