Antimony: the essentials

Metallic antimony is an extremely brittle metal of a flaky, crystalline texture. It is bluish white and has a metallic lustre. It is not acted on by air at room temperature, but burns brilliantly when heated with the formation of white fumes. It is a poor conductor of heat and electricity.

Antimony and its compounds are toxic. It is found mostly with other minerals and in stibnite.

Image adapted with permission from Prof James Marshall's (U. North Texas, USA) Walking Tour of the elements CD.

Science and Ink cartoon for antimony
Cartoon by Nick D Kim ([Science and Ink], used by permission).

Antimony: historical information

Antimony was discovered by Known since ancient times in unknown at not known. Origin of name: from the Greek words "anti + monos" meaning "not alone" (the origin of the symbol Sb comes from the Latin word "stibium").

Antimony was recognized in compounds by the ancients and was known as a metal at the beginning of the 17th century and possibly much earlier. Its most important mineral is stibnite, a mineral which formed the basis of black eye makeup in Biblical times. Antimony was sometimes confused with lead in those times. It seems not to be clear who first recognised antimony as an element but the French chemist Nicolas Lémery conducted much of the earlier studies on antimony chemistry.

Antimony is one of the elements which has an alchemical symbol, (right, {{floatR}}alchemical symbol of antimony{{/floatR}} alchemy is an ancient pursuit concerned with, for instance, the transformation of other metals into gold).

Antimony around us Read more »

Antimony has no biological role. In small doses it is said to stimulate the metabolism.

Antimony is sometimes found as the free element, but more usually as antimony sulphide (Sb2S3, stibnite). It is found also as heavy metal antimonides and as antimony oxides

Abundances for antimony in a number of different environments. More abundance data »
Location ppb by weight ppb by atoms Links
Universe 0.4 0.004 Chemical elements abundance by weight in the universe on a miniature periodic table spark table
Crustal rocks 200 30 Chemical elements abundance by weight in the earth's crust on a miniature periodic table spark table
Human (no data) ppb by weight (no data) atoms relative to C = 1000000 Chemical elements abundance by weight in humans on a miniature periodic table spark table

Physical properties Read more »

Heat properties Read more »

Crystal structure Read more »

The solid state structure of antimony is: trigonal.

Antimony: orbital properties Read more »

Antimony atoms have 51 electrons and the shell structure is The ground state electronic configuration of neutral Antimony is [Kr].4d10.5s2.5p3 and the term symbol of Antimony is 4S3/2.


Isolation: it is not usually necessary to make antimony in the laboratory as it is commercially available. Antimony is found in nature in a number of minerals including stibnite (Sb2S3) and ullmanite (NiSbS). Small amounts of native antimony have been found. Some ores are treatable under reducing conditions to form Sb2S3. The sulphide is removed to leave elemental antimony with scrap iron.

Sb2S3 + 3Fe → 2Sb + 3FeS

In antehr process, some ores can be heated to evolve the oxide Sb2O3 and this in turn can be reduced by charcoal in the presence of sodium sulphate, to ensure mixing, to form elemental antimony.

2Sb2O3 +3C → 4Sb + 3CO2

Antimony isotopes Read more »

The two Antimony isotopes are used for the production of medical radioisotopes. Sb-121 can be used for the production of I-124, although this medical radioisotope is usually produced via Te-124. Sb-121 and Sb-123 can both be used for the production of I-123, although the most common production route is via Xe-124 or Te-123.

Table. Stables isotopes of antimony.
Isotope Mass
(atom %)
spin (I)
moment (μ/μN)
121Sb 120.9038212 (29) 57.21 (5) 5/2 3.3634
123Sb 122.9042160 (24) 42.79 (5) 7/2 2.5498

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