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Beryllium oxide

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Beryllium oxide (BeO), also known as beryllia, is an inorganic compound with the formula BeO. This colourless solid is a notable electrical insulator with a higher thermal conductivity than any other non-metal except diamond, and exceeds that of most metals.[4] As an amorphous solid, beryllium oxide is white. Its high melting point leads to its use as a refractory.[5] It occurs in nature as the mineral bromellite. Historically and in materials science, beryllium oxide was called glucina or glucinium oxide. Formation of BeO from beryllium and oxygen releases the highest energy per mass of reactants for any chemical reaction, close to 24 MJ/kg.[citation needed]

Beryllium oxide
Unit cell, ball and stick model of beryllium oxide
BeO sample.jpg
Preferred IUPAC name
Beryllium(II) monoxide
Systematic IUPAC name
Other names
Beryllia, Thermalox, Natural bromellite, Thermalox 995.[1]
3D model (JSmol)
ECHA InfoCard 100.013.758
EC Number 215-133-1
MeSH beryllium+oxide
RTECS number DS4025000
UN number 1566
Molar mass 25.01 g·mol−1
Appearance Colourless, vitreous crystals
Odor Odourless
Density 3.01 g cm−3
Melting point 2,507 °C (4,545 °F; 2,780 K)
Boiling point 3,900 °C (7,050 °F; 4,170 K)
0.00002 g/100 mL
Band gap 10.6 eV
Thermal conductivity 330 W K−1 m−1
25.5 J/mol K
13.73–13.81 J K−1 mol−1
−599 kJ/mol[2]
−582 kJ/mol
Safety data sheet See: data page
GHS pictograms The skull-and-crossbones pictogram in the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) The health hazard pictogram in the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS)
GHS signal word DANGER
H301, H315, H317, H319, H330, H335, H350, H372
P201, P260, P280, P284, P301+310, P305+351+338
NFPA 704
Flammability code 0: Will not burn. E.g., waterHealth code 4: Very short exposure could cause death or major residual injury. E.g., VX gasReactivity code 0: Normally stable, even under fire exposure conditions, and is not reactive with water. E.g., liquid nitrogenSpecial hazards (white): no codeNFPA 704 four-colored diamond
Lethal dose or concentration (LD, LC):
2062 mg kg−1 (mouse, oral)
US health exposure limits (NIOSH):
PEL (Permissible)
TWA 0.002 mg/m3
C 0.005 mg/m3 (30 minutes), with a maximum peak of 0.025 mg/m3 (as Be)[3]
REL (Recommended)
Ca C 0.0005 mg/m3 (as Be)[3]
IDLH (Immediate danger)
Ca [4 mg/m3 (as Be)][3]
Related compounds
Other anions
Beryllium telluride
Other cations
Supplementary data page
Refractive index (n),
Dielectric constantr), etc.
Phase behaviour
Except where otherwise noted, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C [77 °F], 100 kPa).
N verify (what is YesYN ?)
Infobox references


Preparation and chemical propertiesEdit

Beryllium oxide can be prepared by calcining (roasting) beryllium carbonate, dehydrating beryllium hydroxide, or igniting metallic beryllium:

BeCO3 → BeO + CO2
Be(OH)2 → BeO + H2O
2 Be + O2 → 2 BeO

Igniting beryllium in air gives a mixture of BeO and the nitride Be3N2.[4] Unlike the oxides formed by the other group 2 elements (alkaline earth metals), beryllium oxide is amphoteric rather than basic.

Beryllium oxide formed at high temperatures (>800 °C) is inert, but dissolves easily in hot aqueous ammonium bifluoride (NH4HF2) or a solution of hot concentrated sulfuric acid (H2SO4) and ammonium sulfate ((NH4)2SO4).


BeO crystallizes in the hexagonal wurtzite structure, featuring tetrahedral Be2+ and O2− centres, like lonsdaleite and w-BN (both of which it is isoelectronic with). In contrast, the oxides of the larger group 2 metals, i.e., MgO, CaO, SrO, BaO, crystallize in the cubic rock salt motif with octahedral geometry about the dications and dianions.[4] At high temperature the structure transforms to a tetragonal form.[6]

In the vapour phase, beryllium oxide is present as discrete diatomic molecules. In the language of valence bond theory, these molecules can be described as adopting sp orbital hybridisation, featuring two sigma and two pi bonds. The corresponding ground state is .. (2sσ)2(2sσ*)2(2pπ)4, where both degenerate π orbitals can be considered as dative bonds from oxygen towards beryllium.[7]


High-quality crystals may be grown hydrothermally, or otherwise by the Verneuil method. For the most part, beryllium oxide is produced as a white amorphous powder, sintered into larger shapes. Impurities, like carbon, can give a variety of colours to the otherwise colourless host crystals.

Sintered beryllium oxide is a very stable ceramic.[8] Beryllium oxide is used in rocket engines, and as a transparent, protective over-coating on aluminised telescope mirrors.

Beryllium oxide is used in many high-performance semiconductor parts for applications such as radio equipment because it has good thermal conductivity while also being a good electrical insulator. It is used as a filler in some thermal interface materials such as thermal grease.[9] Some power semiconductor devices have used beryllium oxide ceramic between the silicon chip and the metal mounting base of the package to achieve a lower value of thermal resistance than a similar construction of aluminium oxide. It is also used as a structural ceramic for high-performance microwave devices, vacuum tubes, magnetrons, and gas lasers. BeO has been proposed as a moderator for naval marine high-temperature gas-cooled reactors (MGCR).


BeO is carcinogenic and may cause chronic beryllium disease. Once fired into solid form, it is safe to handle if not subjected to machining that generates dust.[10] Beryllium oxide ceramic is not a hazardous waste under federal law in the USA.


  1. ^ "beryllium oxide – Compound Summary". PubChem Compound. USA: National Center for Biotechnology Information. 27 March 2005. Identification and Related records. Retrieved 8 November 2011. 
  2. ^ Zumdahl, Steven S. (2009). Chemical Principles 6th Ed. Houghton Mifflin Company. ISBN 0-618-94690-X. 
  3. ^ a b c "NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards #0054". National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). 
  4. ^ a b c Greenwood, Norman N.; Earnshaw, Alan (1997). Chemistry of the Elements (2nd ed.). Butterworth-Heinemann. ISBN 0-08-037941-9. 
  5. ^ Raymond Aurelius Higgins (2006). Materials for Engineers and Technicians. Newnes. p. 301. ISBN 0-7506-6850-4. 
  6. ^ A.F. Wells (1984). Structural Inorganic Chemistry (5 ed.). Oxford Science Publications. ISBN 0-19-855370-6. 
  7. ^ Fundamentals of Spectroscopy. Allied Publishers. pp. 234–. ISBN 978-81-7023-911-6. Retrieved 29 November 2011. 
  8. ^ Günter Petzow, Fritz Aldinger, Sigurd Jönsson, Peter Welge, Vera van Kampen, Thomas Mensing, Thomas Brüning"Beryllium and Beryllium Compounds" in Ullmann's Encyclopedia of Industrial Chemistry 2005, Wiley-VCH, Weinheim. doi:10.1002/14356007.a04_011.pub2
  9. ^ Greg Becker; Chris Lee & Zuchen Lin (2005). "Thermal conductivity in advanced chips — Emerging generation of thermal greases offers advantages". Advanced Packaging: 2–4. Archived from the original on June 21, 2000. Retrieved 2008-03-04. 
  10. ^ Beryllium Oxide Safety

External linksEdit