Chemical Element: molybdenum

(Modern Latin: chemical element; from Greek, molybdos, "lead"; metal)

Chemical-Element Information

Symbol: Mo
Atomic number: 42
Year discovered: 1778

Discovered by: Karl Wilhelm Scheele (1742-1786), a Swedish chemist.

  • In 1778, Karl Wilhelm Scheele conducted research on an ore now known as molybdenite.
  • He concluded that it did not contain lead as was suspected at the time and reported that the mineral contained a new element that he called molybdenum after the mineral.
  • Molybdenum metal was prepared in an impure form, in 1782, by Peter Jacob Hjelm (1746-1813), a Swedish mineralogist.
  • Molybdenum is a silvery-white, hard, transition metal.
  • It was often confused with graphite and lead ore.
  • Molybdenum is used in alloys, electrodes, and catalysts.
  • In World War II, a German artillery piece called “Big Bertha” contained molybdenum as an essential component of its steel.
  • Molybdenum increases the strength, toughness, and uniformity of cast iron, in which it is extensively used.

Name in other languages:

French: molybdéne

German: Molybdän

Italian: molibdeno

Spanish: molibdeno

Information about other elements may be seen at this Chemical Elements List.

A special unit about words that include chemo-, chem- may be seen here.