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Pure gallium is a soft, silvery-white metal. Although it is never found as a free element in nature, this metal has a tendency to contaminate ores. Gallium has a melting point only slightly above room temperature and is relatively non-toxic.
Since this metal has a wide liquid range (302.93K - 2676K), gallium can be used in various high-temperature applications including thermometers. Mercury is another metal that exists in liquid state at room temperature, but mercury, commonly used in thermometers in the past, is hazardous to human health.
For many years, the prevalent element in the semiconductor industry was silicon. Today, gallium arsenide is a semiconductor compound of choice in high electron mobility transistors and light emitting diodes (LEDs) due to its optical and electronic properties. In addition to semiconductor compounds from Groups 3A and 5A (III and V) of the periodic table, the National Research Council Canada (NRC) is studying the properties of gallium nitride as its ruggedness makes this compound ideal for high power, high temperature, and high frequency electronic applications.