Chemical Element Pictures - Photo Gallery

Pictures of the Elements

This is pure elemental bismuth, shown in this picture as hopper crystal. It's one of the most beautiful pure elements.
This is pure elemental bismuth, shown in this picture as hopper crystal. It's one of the most beautiful pure elements. Karin Rollett-Vlcek / Getty Images

Most of the chemical elements you encounter every day are combined with other elements to form compounds. Here's a gallery of pictures of the pure elements, so you can see what they look like.

The elements are listed in the order in which they appear in the periodic table or in order of increasing atomic number. Toward the end of the periodic table, there aren't any images of elements. Some are so rare only a few atoms have ever been produced, plus they are highly radioactive, so they often vanish an instant after creation. Yet, many elements are stable. Here's your chance to get to know them.

Picture of Hydrogen - Element 1

Stars and this nebula consist mainly of the element hydrogen.
Stars and this nebula consist mainly of the element hydrogen. NASA/CXC/ASU/J. Hester et al., HST/ASU/J. Hester et al.

Hydrogen is the first element on the periodic table, with 1 proton per atom. It's the most abundant element in the universe. If you look at the Sun, you're mostly looking at hydrogen. It's usual ionization color is sort of a purplish-blue. On Earth, it's a transparent gas, which isn't really worth a picture.

Helium - Element 2

This is a sample of liquid helium. This liquid helium has been cooled to the point of superfluidity.
This is a sample of liquid helium. This liquid helium has been cooled to the point of superfluidity, the helium II state. Vuerqex, public domain

Helium is the second element on the periodic table and the second most abundant element in the universe. On Earth, it's normally a transparent gas. It can be cooled into a transparent liquid, sort of resembling water, except much, much colder. It ionizes into a reddish orange glowing gas.

Lithium - Element 3

Lithium is stored in oil to prevent it from reacting with water and igniting.
Lithium is stored in oil to prevent it from reacting with water and igniting. W. Oelen

Lithium is the third element on the periodic table. This lightweight metal would float on water, but then it would react and burn. The metal oxidizes black in air. You aren't likely to encounter it in its pure form because it is so reactive.

Beryllium - Element 4

Chinese folding glasses with beryllium lenses, China, mid-18th century
Chinese folding glasses with beryllium lenses, China, mid-18th century. De Agostini / A. Dagli Orti / Getty Images

The fourth element is beryllium. This element is a glossy metal, usually dark from an oxide layer formed by its reaction with air.

Boron - Element 5

Chunks of elemental boron.
Chunks of elemental boron. James L Marshall

Boron is a shiny black metalloid, which means it possesses properties of both metals and nometals. Although it can be prepared in a lab, the element does not exist free in nature. It's found in compounds, such as borax.

Carbon - Element #6

The element carbon takes many forms, including a coal, charcoal, graphite and diamonds
The element carbon takes many forms, including a coal, charcoal, graphite and diamonds. Dave King / Getty Images

Most elements can take many forms, called allotropes. Carbon is one of the few elements you can see in daily life as different allotropes. They look quite different from each other and they have distinct properties. Carbon is also important because it's the elemental basis of all organic compounds.

Nitrogen - Element 7

This is the glow given off by ionized nitrogen in a gas discharge tube.
This is the glow given off by ionized nitrogen in a gas discharge tube. The purplish glow seen around lightning strikes is the color of the ionized nitrogen in air. Jurii, Creative Commons

Pure nitrogen is a transparent gas. It forms a transparent liquid and a clear solid that looks much like water ice. However, it's quite colorful as an ionized gas, emitting a blue-violet glow.

Oxygen - Element #8

Liquid oxygen is blue.
Liquid oxygen in an unsilvered dewar flask. Liquid oxygen is blue. Warwick Hillier, Australia National University, Canberra

Pure oxygen is a transparent gas which makes up about 20% of the Earth's atmosphere. It forms a blue liquid. The solid form of the element is even more colorful. Depending on the conditions, it may be blue, red, yellow, orange, or even metallic black! 

Fluorine - Element 9

Liquid fluorine.
Liquid fluorine. Prof B. G. Mueller

Fluorine does not occur free in nature, but it can be prepared as a yellowish gas. It cools into a yellow liquid.

Neon - Element 10

This is a photo of a glowing discharge tube filled with neon.
This is a photo of a glowing discharge tube filled with neon. Jurii, Wikipedia Commons

Neon is the first noble gas on the periodic table. The element neon is best known by its reddish orange glow when the element is ionized. Ordinarily, it is a colorless gas.

Sodium - Element 11

Sodium is a soft, silvery reactive metal.
Sodium is a soft, silvery reactive metal. Dnn87, Creative Commons License

Sodium, like lithium, is a highly reactive metal that will burn in water. The element doesn't occur naturally in pure form, but it's fairly common in science labs. The soft, shiny metal is stored under oil to protect it from oxidation.

Magnesium - Element 12

These are crystals of the pure element magnesium.
These are crystals of the pure element magnesium. Warut Roonguthai

Magnesium is an alkaline earth metal. This reactive metal is used in fireworks. It burns hot enough it can be used to ignite other metals, as in the thermite reaction

Aluminum - Element 13

Crumpled aluminum foil is a pure form of this common metallic element.
Crumpled aluminum foil is a pure form of this common metallic element. Andy Crawford, Getty Images

Aluminum is a metallic element you often encounter in its pure form, although it requires purification from its ore or else recycling to get it that way. 

Silicon - Element 14

This is a photograph of a piece of pure elemental silicon.
This is a photograph of a piece of pure elemental silicon. Silicon is a crystalline metalloid element. Pure silicon is reflective with a dark bluish tinge. Enricoros, public domain

Silicon, like boron, is a metalloid. This element is found in nearly pure form in silicon chips. More commonly, you encounter this element as its oxide in quartz. Although it looks glossy and somewhat metallic, it's too brittle to work like true metals.

Phosphorus - Element 15

Pure phosphorus exists in several forms called allotropes.
Pure phosphorus exists in several forms called allotropes. This photo shows waxy white phosphorus (yellow cut), red phosphorus, violet phosphorus and black phosphorus. The allotropes of phosphorus have markedly different properties from each other. BXXXD, Tomihahndorf, Maksim, Materialscientist (Free Documentation License)

Like carbon, phosphorus is a nonmetal that can take any of multiple forms. White phosphorus is deadly toxic and reacts with air to glow green. Red phosphorus is used in safety matches.

Sulfur - Element 16

This picture shows a crystal of pure sulfur.
This picture shows a crystal of pure sulfur. DEA/A.RIZZI / Getty Images

Sulfur is a nonmetal that can be found in pure form, mostly around volcanoes. The solid element has a distinctive yellow color, but it's red in liquid form. 

Chlorine - Element 17

Chlorine gas will condense into a liquid if chilled using dry ice.
Chlorine gas will condense into a liquid if chilled using dry ice. Andy Crawford and Tim Ridley / Getty Images

Pure chlorine gas is a noxious greenish-yellow color. The liquid is bright yellow. Like the other halogen elements, it readily reacts to form compounds. While the element can kill you in pure form, it's essential for life. Most of the body's chlorine is ingested as table salt, which is sodium chloride.

Argon - Element 18

This is a piece of argon ice.
This is a 2 cm piece of melting argon ice. The argon ice was formed by flowing argon gas into a graduated cylinder that was immersed in liquid nitrogen. A drop of liquid argon is seen melting on the edge of the argon ice. Deglr6328, Free Documentation License

Pure argon gas is transparent. The liquid and solid forms are also colorless. Yet, excited argon ions glow brightly. Argon is used to make lasers, which may be tuned to green, blue, or other colors.

Potassium - Element 19

Like all alkali metals, potassium reacts vigorously in water in an exothermic reaction. It burns with a purple flame.
Like all alkali metals, potassium reacts vigorously in water in an exothermic reaction. It burns with a purple flame. Dorling Kindersley, Getty Images

The alkali metal potassium burns in water, like sodium and lithium, except even more vigorously. This element is one of the ones essential for life.

Calcium - Element 20

Calcium is an alkaline earth metal that oxidizes in air.
Calcium is an alkaline earth metal that oxidizes in air. Tomihahndorf, Creative Commons License

Calcium is one of the alkaline earth metals. It darkens or oxidizes in air. It is the 5th most abundant element in the body and the most abundant metal.

Scandium - Element 21

These are samples of high purity scandium metal.
These are samples of high purity scandium metal. Alchemist-hp

Scandium is a lightweight, relatively soft metal. The silver metal develops a yellow or pink tint after exposure to air. The element is used in the production of high intensity lamps.

Titanium - Element 22

This is a bar of high-purity titanium crystals.
This is a bar of high-purity titanium crystals. Alchemist-hp

Titanium is a light and strong metal used in aircraft and human implants. Titanium powder burns in air and has the distinction of being the only element that burns in nitrogen.

Vanadium - Element 23

This picture shows high purity vanadium in different stages of oxidation.
This picture shows high purity vanadium in different stages of oxidation. Alchemist-HP

Vanadium is a shiny gray metal when it's fresh, but it oxidizes in air. The colorful oxidation layer protects the underlying metal from further attack. The element also forms different colored compounds.

Chromium - Element 24

These are crystals of pure elemental chromium metal and a one cubic centimeter cube of chromium.
These are crystals of pure elemental chromium metal and a one cubic centimeter cube of chromium. Alchemist-hp, Creative Commons License

Chromium is a hard, corrosion-resistant transition metal. One interesting fact about this element is that the 3+ oxidation state is essential for human nutrition, while the 6+ state (hexavalent chromium) is deadly toxic. 

Manganese - Element 25

Mineral nodules of impure manganese metal.
Mineral nodules of impure manganese metal. Penny Tweedie / Getty Images

Manganese is a hard, brittle gray transition metal. It's found in alloys and is essential for nutrition, although toxic in high amounts.

Iron - Element 26

This is a photograph of various forms of high-purity elemental iron.
This is a photograph of various forms of high-purity elemental iron. Alchemist-hp, Creative Commons License

Iron is one of the elements you can encounter in pure form in daily life. Cast iron skillets are made of the metal. In pure form, iron is a blue-gray color. It darkens with exposure to air or water.

Cobalt - Element 27

Cobalt is a metallic element used in magnets and steel.
Cobalt is a hard, silvery-gray metal. This photo shows a high purity cube of cobalt as well as electrolytically refined pure cobalt fragments. Alchemist-hp, Creative Commons License

Cobalt is a brittle, hard metal with an appearance similar to that of iron.

Nickel - Element 28

These are spheres of pure nickel metal.
These are spheres of pure nickel metal. John Cancalosi / Getty Images

Nickel is a hard, silver metal that can take a high polish. It's found in steel and other alloys. Although it is a common element, it's considered toxic.

Copper - Element 29

This is a sample of native pure copper from Bolivia, South America.
This is a sample of native pure copper from Bolivia, South America. John Cancalosi / Getty Images

Copper is one of the element you encounter in pure form in daily life in copper cookware and wire. This element also occurs in its native state in nature, meaning you can find copper crystals and chunks. More commonly, it's found with other elements in minerals.

Zinc - Element 30

Zinc is a shiny, corrosion-resistant metal.
Zinc is a shiny, corrosion-resistant metal. Bar?s Muratoglu / Getty Images

Zinc is a useful metal, found in numerous alloys. It's used to galvanize other metals to protect them from corrosion. This metal is essential for human and animal nutrition.

Gallium - Element 31

Pure gallium has a bright silver color.
Pure gallium has a bright silver color. These crystals were grown by the photographer. Foobar, wikipedia.org

Gallium is considered a basic metal. While mercury is the only liquid metal at room temperature, gallium will melt in the heat of your hand. Even though the element forms crystals, they tend to have a wet, partially melted appearance because of the metal's low melting point.

Germanium - Element 32

Germanium is a hard and lustrous metalloid or semimetal.
Germanium is a hard and lustrous metalloid or semimetal. This is a sample of polycrystalline germanium measuring 2 cm by 3 cm. Jurii

Germanium is a metalloid with an appearance similar to that of silicon. It's hard, shiny, and metallic in appearance. The element is used as a semiconductor and for fiberoptics.

Arsenic - Element 33

The gray form of arsenic may take the form of interesting-looking nodules.
The gray form of arsenic may take the form of interesting-looking nodules. Harry Taylor / Getty Images

Arsenic is a poisonous metalloid. It sometimes occurs in native state. Like other metalloids, it takes multiple forms. The pure element may be a gray, black, yellow, or metallic solid at room temperature.

Selenium - Element 34

Like many nonmetals, pure selenium exists in markedly different forms.
Like many nonmetals, pure selenium exists in markedly different forms. This is black glassy and red amorphous selenium. W. Oelen, Creative Commons

You can find the element selenium in dandruff-control shampoos and some types of photographic toner, but it's not commonly encountered in pure form. Selenium is a solid at room temperature and takes red, gray, and metallic-looking black forms. They gray allotrope is most common.

Bromine - Element 35

This is a picture of the element bromine in a vial encased in a block of acrylic.
This is a picture of the element bromine in a vial encased in a block of acrylic. Bromine is liquid at room temperature. Alchemist-hp, Creative Commons License

Bromine is a halogen that is a liquid at room temperature. The liquid is deep reddish-brown and vaporizes into an orange-brown gas.

Krypton - Element 36

This is a photo of the element krypton in a gas discharge tube.
This is a photo of the element krypton in a gas discharge tube. Alchemist-hp

Krypton is one of the noble gases. A picture of krypton gas would be pretty boring, because it basically looks like air (which is to say, it's colorless and transparent). Like other noble gases, it lights up colorfully when ionized. Solid krypton is white.

Rubidium - Element 37

This is a sample of pure liquid rubidium metal.
This is a sample of pure liquid rubidium metal. The colored rubidium superoxide is visible inside the ampule. Dnn87, Free Documentation License

Rubidium is a silver-colored alkali metal. Its melting point is only slightly higher than room temperature, so it may be observed as a liquid or soft solid. However, it's not a pure element you'd want to handle, since it ignites in air and water, burning with a red flame.

Strontium - Element 38

These are crystals of the pure element strontium.
These are crystals of the pure element strontium. Alchemist-HP

Strontium is a soft, silver alkaline earth metal that develops a yellowish oxidation layer. You probably won't ever see this element in its pure form except in pictures, but it's used in fireworks and emergency flares for the bright red color it adds to flames.

Yttrium - Element 39

Yttrium is a silvery metal.
Yttrium is a silvery metal. Alchemist-hp

Yttrium is a silver-colored metal. It's fairly stable in air, although it will eventually darken. This transition metal is not found free in nature.

Zirconium - Element 40

Zirconium is a gray transition metal.
Zirconium is a gray transition metal. Alchemist-hp

Zirconium is a lustrous gray metal. It's known for its low neutron absorption cross section, so it's an important element in nuclear reactors. The metal is also known for its high corrosion resistance.

Niobium - Element 41

Niobium is a bright silver metal that develops a metallic blue color over time in air.
Niobium is a bright silver metal that develops a metallic blue color over time in air. Alchemist-hp

Fresh, pure niobium is a bright platinum-white metal, but after exposure in air it develops a blue cast. The element is not found free in nature. It's usually associated with the metal tantalum.

Molybdenum - Element 42

These are examples of pure molybdenum metal.
These are examples of pure molybdenum metal. Alchemist-hp

Molybdenum is a silvery-white metal belonging to the chromium family. This element is not found free in nature. Only the elements tungsten and tantalum have higher melting points. The metal is hard and tough.

Ruthenium - Element 44

Ruthenium is a very hard, silver-white transition metal.
Ruthenium is a very hard, silver-white transition metal. Periodictableru

Ruthenium is another hard white transition metal. It belongs to the platinum family. Like other elements in this group, it resists corrosion. This is good, because its oxide has a tendency to explode in air!

Rhodium - Element 45

These are different forms of pure elemental rhodium.
These are different forms of pure elemental rhodium. Alchemist-HP

Rhodium is a silvery transition metal. Its primary use is as a hardening agent for softer metals, such as platinum and palladium. This corrosion-resistant element is also considered a noble metal, like silver and gold.

Silver - Element 47

This is a crystal of pure silver metal.
This is a crystal of pure silver metal. Gary Ombler / Getty Images

Silver is a silver-colored metal (hence the name). It forms a black oxide layer called tarnish. While you may be familiar with the appearance of silver metal, you might not realize the element also forms beautiful crystals.

Cadmium - Element 48

This is a photo of a cadmium crystal bar and a cube of cadmium metal.
This is a photo of a cadmium crystal bar and a cube of cadmium metal. Alchemist-hp, Creative Commons License

Cadmium is a soft, blue-white metal. It's primarily used in soft and low melting point alloys. The element and its compounds are toxic.

Indium - Element 49

Indium is an extremely soft, silver-white metal.
Indium is an extremely soft, silver-white metal. Nerdtalker

Indium is a post-transition metallic element that has more in common with the metalloids than with the transition metals. It is very soft with a silver metallic luster. One of its interesting properties is that the metal wets glass, making it an excellent material for making mirrors.

Tin - Element 50

This image shows the two allotropes of the element tin. White tin is the familiar metal form. Gray tin is brittle and nonmetallic.
This image shows the two allotropes of the element tin. White tin is the familiar metal form. Gray tin is brittle and nonmetallic. Alchemist-HP

You are familiar with the shiny metallic form of tin from tin cans, but colder temperatures change the allotrope of the element into gray tin, which doesn't behave like a metal. Tin is commonly applied over other metals to help protect them from corrosion.

Tellurium - Element 52

This is a picture of pure tellurium metal. The sample is 3.5 cm across.
This is a picture of pure tellurium metal. The sample is 3.5 cm across.

Tellurium is one of the metalloids or semimetals. It occurs in either a shiny gray crystalline form or else a brownish-black amorphous state.

Iodine - Element 53

At room temperature and pressure, iodine occurs as either a violet solid or vapor.
At room temperature and pressure, iodine occurs as either a violet solid or vapor. Matt Meadows / Getty Images

Iodine is another element that displays a distinctive color. You might encounter it in a science lab as a violet vapor or as a shiny blue-black solid. The liquid does not occur at normal pressure.

Xenon - Element 54

This is a sample of pure liquid xenon.
This is a sample of pure liquid xenon. Rasiel Suarez on behalf of Luciteria LLC

The noble gas xenon is a colorless gas under ordinary conditions. Under pressure, it may be liquefied into a transparent liquid. When ionized, the vapor emits pale blue light.

Europium - Element 63

This is a photo of pure europium.
This is a photo of pure europium. Alchemist-hp, Creative Commons License

Europium is a silver metal with a slight yellow tint, but it oxidizes instantly in air or water. This rare earth element actually is rare, at least in the universe where it's estimated to have an abundance of 5 x 10-8 percent of matter. Its compounds are phosphorescent.

Thulium - Element 69

This is a picture of forms of elemental thulium.
This is a picture of forms of elemental thulium. Alchemist-hp, Creative Commons License

Thulium is the rarest of the rare earths (which are actually fairly abundant overall). Because of this, there aren't many uses for this element. It's not toxic, but doesn't serve any known biological function.

Lutetium - Element 71

Lutetium, like other rare earth elements, does not occur in pure form in nature.
Lutetium, like other rare earth elements, does not occur in pure form in nature. Alchemist-hp, Creative Commons License

Lutetium is a soft, silvery rare earth metal. This element does not occur free in nature. It's used primarily for catalysts in the petroleum industry.

Tantalum - Element 73

Tantalum is a lustrous blue-gray transition metal.
Tantalum is a lustrous blue-gray transition metal. Alchemist-hp

Tantalum is a shiny blue-gray metal often found in association with the element niobium (located right above it on the periodic table). Tantalum is highly resistant to chemical attack, although it is affected by hydrofluoric acid. The element has an extremely high melting point.

Tungsten - Element 74

Tungsten is a brittle metal, though it has an extremely high tensile strength.
Tungsten is a brittle metal, though it has an extremely high tensile strength. Alchemist-hp

Tungsten is a strong, silver-colored metal. This is the element with the highest melting point. At high temperatures, a colorful oxidation layer can form over the metal.

Osmium - Element 76

This cluster of osmium crystals was grown using chemical vapor transport.
Osmium is a brittle and hard blue-black transition metal. This cluster of osmium crystals was grown using chemical vapor transport. Periodictableru

Osmium is a hard, shiny transition metal. Under most conditions, it is the element with the highest density (about twice as heavy as lead).

Platinum - Element 78

Platinum is a dense, grayish-white transition metal.
Platinum is a dense, grayish-white transition metal. These crystals of pure platinum were grown by gas phase transport. Periodictableru, Creative Commons License

The metal platinum is seen in relatively pure form in high-end jewelry. The metal is heavy, fairly soft, and corrosion resistant.

Gold - Element 79

This is a nugget of pure gold. Gold may occur in its elemental form in nature.
This is a nugget of pure gold. Gold may occur in its elemental form in nature. Harry Taylor / Getty Images

Element 79 is the precious metal, gold. Gold is known by its distinctive color. This element, along with copper, are the only two non-silvery metals, although it is suspected some of the new elements may display colors (if enough is ever produced to see them).

Mercury - Element 80

Mercury is the only metal that is a liquid at room temperature and pressure.
Mercury is the only metal that is a liquid at room temperature and pressure. Harry Taylor / Getty Images

Mercury also goes by the name quicksilver. This silver-colored metal that is a liquid at room temperature and pressure. You may be wondering what mercury looks like when it is solid. Well, if you place a bit of mercury in liquid nitrogen, it will solidify into a gray metal that resembles tin.

Thallium - Element 81

These are chunks of pure thallium sealed in an ampoule with argon gas.
These are chunks of pure thallium sealed in an ampoule with argon gas. W. Oelen

Thallium is a soft, heavy post-transition metal. The metal resembles tin when it's fresh, but discolors to blue-gray upon exposure to air. The element is soft enough to cut with a knife.

Lead - Element 82

Lead darkens in air, although the pure metal is silver-colored.
Lead darkens in air, although the pure metal is silver-colored. Alchemist-hp

Element 82 is lead, a soft, heavy metal best known for its ability to shield against x-rays and other radiation. The element is toxic, yet common.

Bismuth - Element 83

The crystal structure of the metal bismuth is as beautiful as the oxide layer that forms on it.
The crystal structure of the metal bismuth is as beautiful as the oxide layer that forms on it. Kerstin Waurick / Getty Images

Pure bismuth is a silver-gray metal, sometimes with a faint pink tinge. However, this element readily oxidizes into a rainbow array of colors.

Uranium - Element 92

This is a lump of uranium metal recovered from a Titan II missile.
This is a lump of uranium metal recovered from a Titan II missile. © Martin Marietta; Roger Ressmeyer/Corbis/VCG / Getty Images

Uranium is a heavy, radioactive metal belonging to the actinide group. In pure form, it's a silver-gray metal, able to take a high polish, but it accumulates a dull oxidation layer after exposure to air.

Plutonium - Element 94

Plutonium is a silvery-white radioactive metal.
Plutonium is a silvery-white radioactive metal. U.S. Department of Energy

Plutonium is a heavy radioactive metal. When fresh, the pure metal is shiny and silver. It develops a yellowish oxidation layer after exposure to air. It's unlikely you'll ever get a chance to view this element in person, but if you do, turn out the lights. The metal appears to glow red.

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Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. "Chemical Element Pictures - Photo Gallery." ThoughtCo, Oct. 3, 2017, thoughtco.com/chemical-element-pictures-photo-gallery-4052466. Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. (2017, October 3). Chemical Element Pictures - Photo Gallery. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/chemical-element-pictures-photo-gallery-4052466 Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. "Chemical Element Pictures - Photo Gallery." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/chemical-element-pictures-photo-gallery-4052466 (accessed November 21, 2017).