Chemical Element: tellurium

(Modern Latin: tellus, the "earth"; metal)

Chemical-Element Information

Symbol: Te
Atomic number: 52
Year discovered: 1782

Discovered by: Franz Joseph Müller von Reichstein (1740-1825), an Austrian mineralogist.

  • Tellurium was discovered in gold ores by Franz Joseph Müller von Reichenstein, the chief inspector of mines in Trannsylvania, in 1782.
  • While examining the Transylvanian gold minerals, Müller suspected the presence of a new element and called it “metallum problematicum” or “aurum paradoxum”.
  • Feeling inadequate to the task of settling the matter, he sent the substance to a German chemist, Martin Heinrich Klaproth, for further research.
  • In 1784, Klaproth confirmed that the material was a new element, named it tellurium (from a Latin word for "earth"), and was careful to give full credit for the discovery to Müller.
  • In 1798, Klaproth extracted tellurium from white gold ore, and named it, and established its identity as differing from antimony, with which it had been confused.
  • Although comparatively large supplies of tellurium are available, there are not any significant uses that create a big demand for it.

Name in other languages:

French: atellure

German: Tellur

Italian: tellurio

Spanish: teluro

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.