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MHS Library | How can chemical principles be applied to create a more sustainable future?

Investigation topic 1: Endangered elements in the periodic table

Today’s chemists are involved in many branches of chemistry, covering all 118 elements in the periodic table. Some of these elements are now considered to be critical and endangered, particularly due to the prevalence of modern technologies that rely on many different scarce minerals. It has been estimated that 44 elements will soon be, or are already, facing supply limitations, making a future of continuing technological advancement uncertain.

Questions that may be explored in this investigation include:

· How do the properties of the metalloids (such as germanium, antimony, tellurium) differ so much to their neighbours on the periodic table, and how have these properties made them highly important for society and consequentially scarce in supply?

Introduction to metalloids

The Marvelous Metalloids of the Periodic Table

Brandt, J. (2021, October 16). The Marvelous Metalloids of the Periodic Table | ChemTalk. ChemTalk.

History of metalliods

Metalloids concept and history.

Scroll down to read about the discovery and usage history of 

  • 14. Silicon (Si)
  • 32. Germanium (Ge)
  • 33. Arsenic (As)
  • 51. Antimony (Sb)
  • 52. Tellurium (Te)
  • 84. Polonium (Po)

Metalloids | (2014).

Properties and usage of metalloids

Metalloids: Properties and Uses

Learn more about what metalloids are and how they are used here.

Team Xometry. (2022, August 8). Metalloids: Properties and Uses.; Xometry.

Non-toxic, no-waste or recovery processes for metalloids


CORDIS | European Commission. (2023).



Parinaz Rafiee, S. Chehreh Chelgani, Farhad Moosakazemi, Khosravi, R., & Hossein Siavoshi. (2021). Recovery of a critical metal from electronic wastes: Germanium extraction with organic acid315, 128223–128223.


Ruiz, A. C., Solá, P., & MorenoPalmerola, N. (2018). Germanium: Current and Novel Recovery Processes.



Li, Z., Qiu, F., Tian, Q., Yue, X., & Zhang, T. (2022). Production and recovery of tellurium from metallurgical intermediates and electronic waste-A comprehensive review366, 132796–132796.


Academic literature on metalloids

Criticality of metals and metalloids.


Criticality of metals and metalloids. (2015). Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. ResearchGate.