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Several chemical and physical properties of aluminium oxide make it a desirable material for electrical insulators, abrasives and cutting tools. Among other applications, aluminum oxide is used for the production of aluminum metal by electrolysis and in the manufacturing of precious gemstones, such as sapphires.
The main aluminum ore, bauxite, is a mixture of quartz, iron oxides, silicates and boehmite. The metal is very reactive with atmospheric oxygen and is extremely difficult to refine. The compound is used in many different chemical reactions and for manufacturing alloys.
The oxide is also a very important element in the formation of rubies. Its deep red color comes from traces of chromium.
There are two crystalline forms of aluminum oxide: g-aluminum oxide and a-aluminum oxide. The former is composed of colorless, hexagonal crystals and is insoluble in water. The latter is a white crystalline powder. It is the most common crystalline form of aluminum oxide.
The a-aluminum oxide film is composed of minute colorless crystals that are arranged in hexagonal patterns. The structure of the film changes when it is exposed to high temperatures. The a-alumina film is a vital component in the microchip industry. It is very hard and exhibits very low electric conductivity. It has a density of 3.987 g/cm3. It is resistant to chemical attack and has a resistance level that varies with purity.
The melting and boiling points of aluminum oxide are high. This makes it suitable for building high temperature appliances.