Interesting Facts About Hafnium

7 Interesting Facts About Hafnium Refractory Metals and Alloys
7 Interesting Facts About Hafnium Refractory Metals and Alloys from


Hafnium is a chemical element with the symbol Hf and atomic number 72. It is a lustrous, silvery-gray metal that is commonly found in zirconium minerals. Hafnium has numerous interesting properties and applications, making it a fascinating element to study. In this article, we will explore some intriguing facts about hafnium.

Discovery and Naming

Hafnium was discovered in 1923 by Dirk Coster and George de Hevesy, who named it after the Latin name for Copenhagen, “Hafnia.” The discovery of hafnium was a significant achievement since it filled a gap in the periodic table.

Abundance and Occurrence

Hafnium is not found freely in nature but is instead commonly found in zirconium minerals. It is estimated that hafnium makes up approximately 2.3 parts per million of the Earth’s crust, making it a relatively rare element.

Physical Properties

Hafnium is a heavy metal with a density comparable to that of platinum. It has a high melting point of about 2,200 degrees Celsius, making it suitable for high-temperature applications. Hafnium is also highly corrosion-resistant and has excellent mechanical properties.


One of the most significant applications of hafnium is in nuclear reactors, where it is used to control nuclear reactions. Hafnium rods can absorb neutrons and prevent the uncontrolled chain reaction. It is also used in the production of superalloys for gas turbine engines, as well as in the semiconductor industry.

Hafnium and Zirconium

Hafnium is often found together with zirconium since they have similar chemical properties. Separating hafnium from zirconium is a challenging task due to their close resemblance. However, hafnium-free zirconium is essential for nuclear applications to prevent the absorption of thermal neutrons.

Hafnium in Space Exploration

Hafnium has also found its way into space exploration. It is used in spacecraft propulsion systems, where it reacts with oxygen to produce thrust. This reaction is highly exothermic and provides the necessary energy for propulsion.

Hafnium in the Medical Field

Hafnium oxide nanoparticles have shown promise in the medical field. These nanoparticles can be used to deliver drugs to specific targets in the body, such as tumors. Hafnium oxide nanoparticles are highly stable and have excellent biocompatibility.

Isotopes and Nuclear Isomerism

Hafnium has several isotopes, but only one of them, hafnium-178m2, exhibits nuclear isomerism. This isomer has a half-life of about 31 years and emits gamma radiation. Hafnium-178m2 is used in medical imaging and radiation therapy.

Hafnium as a Catalyst

Hafnium compounds have shown catalytic properties in various chemical reactions. They can be used as catalysts in the production of pharmaceuticals, polymers, and other valuable compounds. Hafnium-based catalysts offer high activity and selectivity.


Hafnium is a remarkable element with diverse applications and fascinating properties. From its use in nuclear reactors and space exploration to its potential in medicine and catalysis, hafnium continues to play a crucial role in various fields of science and technology. Exploring the unique characteristics of hafnium helps us better understand the wonders of the periodic table.