Metallic chemical element, chemical symbol Ga, atomic number 31. Silvery white and soft enough to be cut with a knife, gallium has an unusually low melting point (about 30 °C [86 °F]), which allows it to liquefy in the palm of the hand. The liquid metal clings to or wets glass and similar surfaces. Gallium expands on solidification and supercools readily, remaining liquid at temperatures as low as 0 °C (32 °F). In various combinations with aluminum, indium, phosphorus, arsenic, and antimony, it forms compounds (e.g., gallium arsenide and indium gallium arsenide phosphide) with valuable semiconductor and optoelectronic properties; some of these compounds form the basis for such electronic devices as light-emitting diodes and semiconductor lasers.

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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