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   26    

26 Fe Iron

Transition metal, mass: 55.845 u, 3 stable isotopes (56, 57, 58), 54Fe is nearly stable. Abundance rank (earth/space): 4/9

Click image to magnify. Fragments of an iron meteorite, about 92% iron. Original size of the single pieces in cm: 0.4 - 0.8
Iron meteorite fragments The same fragments
Iron is a silvery metal, which is very abundant and is used for multiple purposes. Commonly it is alloyed together with carbon and other elements, to become steel. The number of different steels is very high, their characters vary over a wide span. Sometimes pure iron occurs in nature, but most is found in ores. Meteorites, that hit Earth's ground and don't evaporate before, often are iron meteorites. Iron can be seen as an energetic ideal state of matter. Smaller atoms can set energy free by fusion, larger atoms by fission, but from iron no nuclear energy can be won. Iron 56 and 58 and nickel 62 have the highest binding energy per nuclear particle. Very big stars form an iron core shortly before their final collapse and the following supernova. Iron is essential for mammals and makes our blood red. Iron is known to humanity since several millennia and has shaped our culture and civilization like no other element.

Old horseshoe Glowing iron
Left: rust, an old horseshoe, covered with black FeO and red Fe2O3.
Right: red hot iron is forged with hammer and anvil.

Iron cylinder Iron ore
Left: cylinder of pure iron, 16 grams, 1 cm diameter.
Right: iron ore from the Grünten in southern Germany. 50 grams, 3.5 x 7 cm.

Steel knife Amethyst
Left: High-alloyed steel knife made of approx. 84.5 % iron, 14 % chromium, 1 % carbon, 0.3 % molybdenum and 0.2 % nickel.
Right: An amethyst, SiO2, with Fe impurities. Irradiation turned the Fe3+ ions into Fe4+, which in the crystal lattice causes a violet color. Also Fe2O3 and dendrites of manganese oxide are visible.


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