Beryllium is a chemical element with the symbol Be and atomic number 4. It is a steel-gray, strong, lightweight and brittle alkaline earth metal. It is a divalent element that occurs naturally only in combination with other elements to form minerals. Gemstones high in beryllium include beryl (aquamarine, emerald, red beryl) and chrysoberyl. It is a relatively rare element in the universe, usually occurring as a product of the spallation of larger atomic nuclei that have collided with cosmic rays. Within the cores of stars, beryllium is depleted as it is fused into heavier elements. Beryllium constitutes about 0. 0004 percent by mass of Earth's crust. The world's annual beryllium production of 220 tons is usually manufactured by extraction from the mineral beryl, a difficult process because beryllium bonds strongly to oxygen.

In structural applications, the combination of high flexural rigidity, thermal stability, thermal conductivity and low density (1. 85 times that of water) make beryllium metal a desirable aerospace material for aircraft components, missiles, spacecraft, and satellites. Because of its low density and atomic mass, beryllium is relatively transparent to X-rays and other forms of ionizing radiation; therefore, it is the most common window material for X-ray equipment and components of particle detectors. When added as an alloying element to aluminium, copper (notably the alloy beryllium copper), iron, or nickel, beryllium improves many physical properties. For example, tools and components made of beryllium copper alloys are strong and hard and do not create sparks when they strike a steel surface. In air, the surface of beryllium oxidizes readily at room temperature to form a passivation layer 1–10 nm thick that protects it from further oxidation and corrosion. The metal oxidizes in bulk (beyond the passivation layer) when heated above 500 °C (932 °F), and burns brilliantly when heated to about 2,500 °C (4,530 °F).

The commercial use of beryllium requires the use of appropriate dust control equipment and industrial controls at all times because of the toxicity of inhaled beryllium-containing dusts that can cause a chronic life-threatening allergic disease in some people called berylliosis. Berylliosis causes pneumonia and other associated respiratory illness.

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Atomic properties

Standard atomic weight9.01218 ±5·10-7
Atomic mass9.01218 u

Atomic radii

Radius (empirical)112 pm
Radius (calculated)112 pm
Covalent radius96 ±3 pm
Van der Waals radius153 pm

Atomic shell

Electron configurationHe 2s2
Ionization energy(1st) 9.322699 eV
(2nd) 18.21115 eV
(3rd) 153.8962 eV
(4th) 217.71858 eV
Shell model

Physical properties

Density1.848 g·cm−3 (293.1 K)
Molar volume4.85·10-6 m3·mol−1
Speed of sound13,000 m·s−1


Melting point1,560 K
Boiling point2,742 K
Liquid range1,182 K
Critical point(5,205 K)
Transition temperature26 K


Melting enthalpy7.95 kJ·mol-1
Enthalpy of vaporization297 kJ·mol-1
Binding energy324 kJ·mol-1

Heat and conductivity

Specific heat capacity1,825 J·kg−1·K−1
Thermal conductivity190 W·m-1·K-1
Expansion coefficient1.13·10-5 K-1
Work function4.98 eV


Mohs hardness5.5
Brinell hardness600 NM·m-2
Vickers hardness1,670 NM·m-2

Elastic properties

Young’s modulus287 GPa
Shear modulus132 GPa
Bulk modulus130 GPa
Poisson’s ratio0.032

Electrical properties

Electrical conductivity2.5·107 S·m-1
Resistance3.8·10-8 Ωm


Magnetic susceptibility-9·10-6 cm3·mol−1

Chemical properties

Oxidation state2
Standard potential-1.97 V (Be2+ + 2e- → Be)


Pauling scale1.57
Sanderson scale1.81
Allred-Rochow scale1.47
Mulliken scale1.54
Allen scale1.576
Ghosh-Gupta scale3.706 eV
Boyd-Edgecombe scale1.44
Nagle scale1.55
Pearson absolute negativity4.9 eV

Other properties

Natural occurrenceprimordial
Crystal structureHexagonal close-packed
Goldschmidt Classificationlithophile
Superconductorwith transition tempperature (solid body, normal pressure)
Price/kg857 USD

Natural abundances

1 ppb ≈ 1·1010 M☉
0.1 ppb ≈ 1.98·108 Mt
30 ppb ≈ 30 mg
Earth’s crust
1,900 ppb ≈ 52,600 Mt
6·10-4 ppb ≈ 822 t
Flowing water
0.1 ppb ≈ 1.6 kt
Human body
0.4 ppb ≈ 28 μg