Image showing a lab-grown sample of bismuth, with iridescent sheen due to a surface layer of bismuth oxide.

Facts about Bismuth:

  • Bismuth: metallic grey element
  • Fun fact about Bismuth: Bismuth is used medically to treat some stomach upsets as bismuth Bismuth Subsalicylate (as Pepto bismol in the UK).
  • Chemical symbol: Bi
  • Atomic number: 83

A crystal structure containing Bismuth:

Crystal structure of bismuth oxychloride, BiOCl, showing bismuth, oxide and chloride ions in purple, red and green, respectively.

Facts about this structure:

  • Formula: BiOCl
  • Structure name: PbClF type
  • Fun fact about the structure: Bismuth oxychloride BiOCl gives pearlescence in cosmetics, and currently investigated for its photocatalytic properties.
  • ICSD number: 29143 (Find out more about the ICSD database)
  • Associated publication: J. Y. Xiong, G. Cheng, G. F. Li, F. Quin, R. Chen, RSC Advances, 2011, 1, 1542, DOI: 10.1039/c1ra00335f

More info:

Bismuth is one of the most strongly diamagnetic materials; it's metallic but fairly brittle and a solid at standard conditions (but melts at 271°C). The metallic element is grey in colour but the iridescence on the surface of the sample shown above is due to a thin layer of bismuth oxide on the surface. Bismuth is said to be the heaviest element with a stable nucleus. Its most stable cation Bi3+ has an interesting electronic configuration which makes it useful in functional materials.

More info about the International Year of the Periodic Table (IYPT) in crystals project:

This project (#IYPTCrystals) is part of the International Year of the Periodic Table celebration (#IYPT2019), read more about the project here. You can follow us on social media using #IYPTCrystals and learn more about the wonders of crystals by following the CCDC on Twitter @ccdc_cambridge on Facebook ccdc.cambridge, on Instagram ccdc_cambridge or on YouTube CCDCCambridge.

If you want to find out more about some of the terms and concepts we have a Frequently Asked Questions Page.

A visualisation showing the structure containing Bismuth alongside other structures published in the same scientific article: