What is the Difference Between Gallium and Mercury

The main difference between gallium and mercury is that gallium has a very low density compared to mercury.

Elements are the fundamental building blocks of matter. They are pure substances that cannot be broken down further into simpler substances by ordinary chemical means. Elements exhibit a wide range of properties, including physical, chemical, and atomic properties. Gallium and mercury are two such elements.

Key Areas Covered 

1. What is Gallium 
     – Definition, Chemical Properties 
2. What is Mercury
     – Definition, Chemical Properties 
3. Similarities Between Gallium and Mercury
     – Outline of Common Features
4. Difference Between Gallium and Mercury
     – Comparison of Key Differences

Key Terms

Gallium, MercuryDifference Between Gallium and Mercury - Comparison Summary

What is Gallium

Gallium is a chemical element with the symbol Ga. It has an atomic number 31. It is classified as a metal. One of the main characteristics of gallium is its low melting point, making it one of the few metals that are liquid near room temperature. It melts at approximately 29.8 degrees Celsius. The fact that it is slightly higher than the average human body temperature makes it an ideal element for use in certain medical applications.

Gallium also exhibits some interesting physical properties. It is a soft, silvery-white metal with a slightly bluish tint. When solidified,  it has a crystalline structure, but its liquid form is dense and displays a high surface tension. Due to its low vapor pressure, gallium has a low tendency to evaporate, making it relatively stable under normal conditions.

Applications of Gallium

One of the most significant applications of gallium is in the field of electronics and semiconductors. Gallium-based compounds such as gallium arsenide and gallium nitride have superior electrical properties that make them ideal for high-speed electronic devices, optoelectronics, and power applications. Gallium arsenide, for instance, is used extensively in the production of LEDs, laser diodes, and solar cells. Its efficiency, stability, and durability make it a preferred material in telecommunications, aerospace, and automotive industries.

Compare Gallium and Mercury - What's the difference?

Gallium-based ICs have the advantage of higher electron mobility and faster switching speeds compared to traditional silicon-based ICs. This makes gallium a crucial element in the advancement of technology, enabling the development of smaller, more powerful, and energy-efficient electronic devices. Gallium is also used in diagnostic imaging techniques such as gallium scans or gallium-67 citrate imaging. Gallium compounds have also shown potential in the development of new drugs for various diseases. It is employed in the manufacturing of high-temperature thermometers and as a heat transfer fluid in some specialized cooling systems. Gallium alloys such as gallium-indium-tin alloy have low toxicity and a low freezing point, making them suitable for use in thermometers and certain electronics applications.

What is Mercury

Mercury is an element having the symbol Hg and the atomic number 80. One of the main characteristics of mercury is its physical state. It is the only metal that is liquid at standard conditions, with a melting point of -38.83 degrees of Celsius and a boiling point of 356.7 degrees of Celsius. This unique property gives mercury its characteristic silvery appearance and allows it to flow and adapt to the shape of its container. The liquid state of mercury and its high density makes it an ideal material for use in various scientific instruments, including thermometers and barometers.

Applications of Mercury

One of the main uses of mercury is in the production of electrical switches and relays because of its conductive properties and low resistance, which make it an ideal choice. Mercury is employed in the production of fluorescent lamps and compact fluorescent bulbs. These types of lighting fixtures rely on the vaporization of mercury to produce ultraviolet light, which then interacts with phosphors to emit visible light. However, the growing emphasis on energy-efficient LED lighting has led to a decline in the use of mercury-containing lamps. In addition to its electrical applications, mercury has been widely used in dental amalgams for tooth restoration. Dental amalgam consists of a mixture of mercury with other metals such as silver, tin, and copper.

Gallium vs Mercury

However, it is important to know that mercury can be toxic to both humans and the environment. Mercury vapour and certain forms of mercury compounds can be harmful if inhaled, ingested, or absorbed through the skin. Prolonged exposure can lead to serious health issues, including neurological and developmental disorders. Due to its toxicity, the use of mercury has been significantly restricted in many industries and applications.

Similarities Difference Between Gallium and Mercury

  • Gallium and mercury are metals that have relatively low melting points.
  • Both gallium and mercury are dense liquids.
  • They are toxic to varying degrees.

Difference Between Gallium and Mercury


Gallium is a chemical element with the symbol Ga and the atomic number 31, while mercury is an element having the symbol Hg and the atomic number 80.


Gallium has a very low density compared to mercury.

Type of Metal

Moreover, gallium is a post-transition metal, while mercury is a transition metal.


Mercury is highly toxic compared to gallium.

Melting and Boiling Points

Gallium has a melting point of 29.76°C and a boiling point of 2204°C while mercury has a melting point of -38.83°C and a boiling point of 356.7°C.


Gallium and mercury are two elements with low melting points. The main difference between gallium and mercury is that gallium has a very low density compared to mercury.


1. “Mercury.” Encyclopedia Britannica.
2. “Gallium.” Encyclopedia Britannica.

Image Courtesy:

1. “Solid gallium (Ga)” By Hi-Res Images of Chemical Elements (CC BY 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Pouring liquid mercury bionerd” By Bionerd – Own work (CC BY 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia

About the Author: Hasini A

Hasini is a graduate of Applied Science with a strong background in forestry, environmental science, chemistry, and management science. She is an amateur photographer with a keen interest in exploring the wonders of nature and science.

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