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Products - Tantalum

Tantalum Application

Using Tantalum in the Aerospace Industry

Products made from tantalum by Firmetal are used in civil and military aerospace applications. They are a component in the superalloys in turbine blades, flame and heat shielding and other parts of jet engines. The outstanding high temperature properties of tantalum contribute to structural integrity and better fuel efficiency at high operating temperatures.

In addition, the use of tantalum capacitors is prevalent in electronic systems for aviation and aerospace, where high reliability in a range of environments is of paramount importance.


Using Tantalum in Ballistics

Because of its unique combination of ductility and density, tantalum is the material of choice for several advanced anti-tank weapon systems. These defensive armament systems utilize an explosive charge to dynamically deform a saucer-share tantalum 'liner' into a long-rod penetrator, while concurrently propelling it towards a heavy armor target.

Such compact Explosively Formed Penetrator (EFP) warheads are packaged along with sophisticated parachutes, sensors, and electronics to create a Smart Weapon: a munition that can be deployed, directed, and detonated against targets that are beyond the sight of the soldier. Compared to traditional weapons, these Smart Weapons eliminate the need for visual contact with the target prior to launch, have a higher hit probability and remove soldiers from the reach of enemy fire.

Using Tantalum in Chemical Processing

Resistance to high temperatures and chemical corrosion make tantalum and its alloys common materials of construction for chemical, pharmaceutical and nuclear plant processing equipment.

Tantalum operates safely at high temperatures and chemical concentrations, while minimizing product contamination. Applications include reaction vessels, liners and repair materials, instrumentation and safety devices such as thermowells, diaphragms, rupture discs and orifices.

Ease of fabrication means that niobium parts can be designed with thin cross sections and in intricate shapes, as in spinnerets and impellers.

Tantalum offers high thermal conductivity, important to distillation equipment, heat exchangers, condensers, bayonet heaters, spiral coils, U-tubes, spargers, side-arm reboilers and thermowells. Thin-gauge tantalum strips can be readily deep-drawn to produce inert laboratory crucibles and cups.

Using Tantalum in Electronics

Electronics is the largest market for tantalum, consuming about 60% of the world's production. The largest single application is in electronic capacitors, where tantalum's ability to form stable oxide films creates highly efficient, highly reliable and environmentally versatile components. In the year 2000, over 2 million pounds of tantalum was employed in over 20 billion tantalum capacitors serving automotive, communications, computers, consumer, defense, medical and other electronics.

Driven by continuous reductions in cost and device size and performance improvements, copper is beginning to replace aluminum for use as interconnects in next generation semiconductors. To prevent copper from migrating through the device and "poisoning" the transistors, a diffusion barrier between the interconnects and the device is necessary. Tantalum and tantalum nitride, produced by sputtering of pure tantalum in the presence of nitrogen, are becoming the established barrier materials for the new copper semiconductors.

Using Tantalum in the Energy Industry

Tantalum (like niobium) is an important component in superalloys in turbine blades in industrial gas turbines for power generation. As in jet engines, these performance metals bring structural integrity at higher temperatures, increasing fuel efficiency.



Using Tantalum in Magnetic Media

Tantalum and Niobium are frequently employed in the manufacture of hard disk drives and similar storage devices. Thin films of tantalum or niobium are employed in the disks themselves, and in the thin film read-write heads. These thin films are most commonly created by Physical Vapor Deposition (PVD).



Using Tantalum in Specialty Glasses & Ceramics

Tantalum Oxides (Ta2O5) are frequently used in making special glasses, piezoelectric, dielectric and electro-optical devices. Applications include high refractive index glasses, fiber optic components, high dielectric constant ceramics and additives for piezoelectrics.

One of the largest uses for these high purity oxides is in optical lenses for cameras, ophthalmics and microscopes. Another major application is to produce lithium niobate or tantalate single crystals for surface acoustic wave (SAW) filters for electronic equipment.


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