What is Titanium? - Properties & Uses

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  • 0:04 What Is Titanium?
  • 0:46 Titanium Characteristics
  • 1:30 Titanium Uses
  • 2:59 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Marauo Davis

Marauo has taught both chemistry and mathematics in the high school and college setting and has a Ph.D. degree in chemistry.

Have you ever wondered how airplanes can be so strong? Or have you wondered how toothpaste gets its color? The same metal is responsible for both properties. In this lesson we will learn more about the element titanium.

What Is Titanium?

The element titanium, with chemical abbreviation Ti, has the atomic number 22 and is a member of the transition metals. It appears as a highly lustrous, silver-colored metal. A great deal can be said about titanium simply from its name, the root of which is 'Titan'. In Greek mythology, the Titans were known as a group of very strong and resilient deities (or supernatural beings). Likewise, this metal is considered to be very strong and durable. Titanium is common and can be found in many rocks and sediments. Like many transition metals, titanium forms oxide layers on the surface by reacting with air. However, the metal is very useful in this oxide form, and a host of applications will be discussed later in this lesson.

Titanium Characteristics

As a member of Group 4 (fourth column of the periodic table, in the transition metals), titanium is commonly found in an oxidation state of +4 (number of electrons it prefers to bond with). Titanium is naturally found in an oxide form. Due to its metallic properties, titanium has high boiling and melting points. Titanium possesses a very low density and high strength. In fact, one of titanium's most useful properties is its high tensile strength to density ratio. Additionally, titanium is well known for its high resistance to corrosion. This very unique property makes titanium the metal of choice for numerous applications where corrosion is a potential problem. Due to these unique properties, titanium finds many uses and applications across the board.

Clip from periodic table to show transition metals
Transition metals

Titanium Uses

Now, we have mentioned that titanium can be used for a host of applications, so what are they? Well, have you ever wondered what metal is used to build airplanes? You might have guessed that it was steel (which is actually an alloy, not a metal). However, if you guessed titanium, you would be correct. Titanium is the element responsible for the super strength of airplanes. Additionally, titanium is actually orbiting the planet right now. At this very moment, the International Space Station has countless parts that are made from titanium.

Also, have you ever wondered what chemical or element is responsible for the white color in toothpaste or paint? As you might now assume, a titanium-containing complex gives white toothpaste its color. Wow! Who would think that the same metal that makes aircraft so strong could also be used to color toothpaste?

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