The application of antimony


Antimony application on the fire retardant

The oxide of antimony-antimonous oxide can be used to produce refractory materials, which can be regarded as the leading usage of antimony. Antimony is almost always used together with halon fire retardant except for the polymer fire retardant that contains halogen. As antimonous oxide has flame retardant, it can slow down burning in the process when it forms the antimony halide, in which these kinds of compounds can react with hydrogen atom, oxygen atom and hydroxyl radical and finally put out the fire. In the commercial industry, these kinds of fire retardants can be used on children’s clothing, toys, aircrafts and car seat covers. It can be also used as the additive of polyester resin in the glass fiber composite industry (commonly known as glass fiber reinforced plastics), such as the hood of light airplane, in which the resin will burn when encountering with fire and will automatically stop its combustion after the fire is put out.

Antimony application on the alloy

Antimony can form alloy that has wide usage with lead. Compared with antimony, the hardness and mechanical strength of this kind of alloy is improved. In many cases that use lead, certain amount of metal antimony or antimony powder are added to produce the alloy. In the lead-acid cell, these additives can change the electrode property and reduce the generation of by-product hydrogen gas when discharging. Antimony can also be used in the antifriction alloy (such as the babbit alloy), bullets, pellets, cable coat, printing alloy (such as Linotype typesetting machines), solders (some lead-free solders that contain 5 percent of antimony), type metals and alloys that contain less tin and used to make organ by induration production.

Other applications of antimony

Except for the above applications, antimony is mainly applied in three aspects which are mentioned below. Firstly, it can be used to produce the stabilizer and catalyst of polyethylene terephthalate. Secondly, it can be used as the clarifying agent to remove the visible air bubbles in the glass found by the microscope, besides, it is mainly used to produce video screen; this is because the antimony ion can prevent the bubbles from continuously generating after contacting with oxygen. Thirdly, it can be used to produce pigment. The application of antimony on the semiconductor industry is ever-accelerating, which is mainly used as the dopant in n-type silicon wafer that has ultrahigh conductivity. This kind of material is used in producing diodes, infrared detectors and Hall-effect elements. In 1950s, the small bead of lead-antimony alloy was used to paint the ejectors and receivers of NPN-type alloy junction transistor. In addition, indium antimonide can be used as the material in producing infrared detectors.

Antimony is rarely applied in the biology or the medical science. Drugs that have main components of antimony are called antimonial which is a kind of emetic. Antimony compounds can be also used as the antiprotozoal agents. Since 1919, antimony potassium tartrate (commonly known as tartar emetic) had been used as the drugs that can cure schistosomiasis, however, it was later gradually replaced by praziquantel. Antimony and its compounds can be used in various veterinary drugs, for example, anthiomaline can be used as the skin-conditioning agents for ruminants. Antimony has nourishing and regulating effects on the cuticularized tissues, especially for the animals.

Drugs that contain antimony can be also used to cure leishmaniasis of livestocks, such as the methylglucamine antimonite. Unfortunately, as it not only has low therapeutic index, but also difficult to enter some of the marrow surrounded by leishmania amastigotes, it cannot cure the disease which affects the internal organs. Antimony pellets made by metal antimony were once used as the drugs, but it can lead to poisoning if it is injected into someone from the air.

Antimony trisulfide is used in some match ends of the safety matches. Antimony-124 and beryllium are both used in the neutron source, in which the antimony-124 will release gamma rays and trigger the photodisintegration of beryllium. The neutron average energy released by this method is 24kev. Antimony sulfides have been verified that they can stabilize the friction coefficient of auto brake pad materials. Antimony can also be used to produce bullets and bullet tracers. Besides, this element can be used in traditional decorations, such as mopping and art glass crafts. In 1930s, it was used as the opacifiers of enamel and was out of use after causing poisoning many times.