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Although the Group 12 metals ( [link] ) are formally part of the d-block elements from their position in the Periodic Table, their electronic configuration in both their elemental form ( d 10 s 2 ) and the vast majority of their compounds ( d 10 ) is that of the main group elements. The common oxidation state for all the Group 12 elements is +2, and the chemistry of zinc and cadmium compounds in particular is very similar to the analogous magnesium derivatives.

The IUPAC (International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry) definition of a transition metal (or transition element) states that a transition metal is "an element whose atom has an incomplete d sub-shell, or which can give rise to cations with an incomplete d sub-shell." Thus, Group 12 elements are not transition metals.
Derivation of the names of the Group 12 metals.
Element Symbol Name
Zinc Zn From German zinke , meaning tooth-like, pointed or jagged (metallic zinc crystals have a needle-like appearance), or meaning tin-like because of its relation to German word zinn meaning tin , or from Persian seng meaning stone .
Cadmium Cd From the Latin cadmia , meaning calamine
Mercury Hg From the Latin hydrargyrum , meaning watery or liquid silver



Artifacts with a high zinc content (as much as 90%) have been fond to be over 2500 years old, and possibly older. As such it is clear that several cultures had the knowledge of working with zinc alloys, in particular brass (a zinc/copper alloy). Zinc mines at Zawar, near Udaipur in India, have been active since the late 1 st millennium BC. However, the smelting of metallic zinc appears to have begun around the 12 th century AD.

The isolation of purified metallic zinc was reported concurrently by several people. The extraction of zinc from its oxide (ZnO) was reported as early as 1668, while John Lane is supposed to have smelted zinc in 1726. The first Patent for zinc smelting was granted to English metallurgist William Champion in 1738; however, the credit for discovering pure metallic zinc is often given to Andreas Marggraf ( [link] ) in 1746.

Engraving of German chemist Andreas Sigismund Marggraf (1709 –1782).


Cadmium was discovered in 1817 by Friedrich Stromeyer ( [link] ) as an impurity in calamine (zinc carbonate, ZnCO 3 ). Stromeyer observed that impure samples of calamine changed color when heated but pure calamine did not. Eventually he was able to isolate cadmium metal by roasting and reduction of the sulfide.

German chemist Friedrich Stromeyer (1776 - 1835).


Mercury was known to the ancient Chinese and was found in Egyptian tombs that date from 1500 BC. In China and Tibet, mercury use was thought to prolong life, heal fractures, and maintain generally good health. The ancient Greeks used mercury in ointments; the ancient Egyptians and the Romans used it in cosmetics that sometimes deformed the face.


The Group 12 elements mainly occur in sulfide ores, however, as with their Group 2 analogs, carbonate are known, but not as economically viable. The major zinc containing ore is zinc blende (also known as sphalerite), which is zinc sulfide (ZnS). Other important ores include, wurtzite (ZnS), smithsonite (zinc carbonate, ZnCO 3 ), and hemimorphite (calamine, Zn 2 SiO 4 ). The basic form of zinc carbonate (hydrozincite, Zn 5 (CO 3 ) 2 (OH) 6 ) is also mined where economically viable. The main source of cadmium is as an impurity in zinc blende; however, there are several other ores known, e.g., cadmoselite (cadmium selenide, CdSe) and otavite (CdCO 3 ). Mercury sulfide (cinnabar, HgS) is the major source of mercury, and in fact metallic liquid mercury droplets are often found in the ore. The terrestrial abundance of the Group 12 elements is given in [link] .

Questions & Answers

how to know photocatalytic properties of tio2 nanoparticles...what to do now
Akash Reply
it is a goid question and i want to know the answer as well
Do somebody tell me a best nano engineering book for beginners?
s. Reply
what is fullerene does it is used to make bukky balls
Devang Reply
are you nano engineer ?
fullerene is a bucky ball aka Carbon 60 molecule. It was name by the architect Fuller. He design the geodesic dome. it resembles a soccer ball.
what is the actual application of fullerenes nowadays?
That is a great question Damian. best way to answer that question is to Google it. there are hundreds of applications for buck minister fullerenes, from medical to aerospace. you can also find plenty of research papers that will give you great detail on the potential applications of fullerenes.
what is the Synthesis, properties,and applications of carbon nano chemistry
Abhijith Reply
Mostly, they use nano carbon for electronics and for materials to be strengthened.
is Bucky paper clear?
so some one know about replacing silicon atom with phosphorous in semiconductors device?
s. Reply
Yeah, it is a pain to say the least. You basically have to heat the substarte up to around 1000 degrees celcius then pass phosphene gas over top of it, which is explosive and toxic by the way, under very low pressure.
Do you know which machine is used to that process?
how to fabricate graphene ink ?
for screen printed electrodes ?
What is lattice structure?
s. Reply
of graphene you mean?
or in general
in general
Graphene has a hexagonal structure
On having this app for quite a bit time, Haven't realised there's a chat room in it.
what is biological synthesis of nanoparticles
Sanket Reply
what's the easiest and fastest way to the synthesize AgNP?
Damian Reply
types of nano material
abeetha Reply
I start with an easy one. carbon nanotubes woven into a long filament like a string
many many of nanotubes
what is the k.e before it land
what is the function of carbon nanotubes?
I'm interested in nanotube
what is nanomaterials​ and their applications of sensors.
Ramkumar Reply
what is nano technology
Sravani Reply
what is system testing?
preparation of nanomaterial
Victor Reply
Yes, Nanotechnology has a very fast field of applications and their is always something new to do with it...
Himanshu Reply
good afternoon madam
what is system testing
what is the application of nanotechnology?
In this morden time nanotechnology used in many field . 1-Electronics-manufacturad IC ,RAM,MRAM,solar panel etc 2-Helth and Medical-Nanomedicine,Drug Dilivery for cancer treatment etc 3- Atomobile -MEMS, Coating on car etc. and may other field for details you can check at Google
anybody can imagine what will be happen after 100 years from now in nano tech world
after 100 year this will be not nanotechnology maybe this technology name will be change . maybe aftet 100 year . we work on electron lable practically about its properties and behaviour by the different instruments
name doesn't matter , whatever it will be change... I'm taking about effect on circumstances of the microscopic world
how hard could it be to apply nanotechnology against viral infections such HIV or Ebola?
silver nanoparticles could handle the job?
not now but maybe in future only AgNP maybe any other nanomaterials
I'm interested in Nanotube
this technology will not going on for the long time , so I'm thinking about femtotechnology 10^-15
can nanotechnology change the direction of the face of the world
Prasenjit Reply
how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
Smarajit Reply
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waht is hydrating power of lithium carbonates
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Source:  OpenStax, Chemistry of the main group elements. OpenStax CNX. Aug 20, 2010 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11124/1.25
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