Niobium Wire And Rod

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Niobium (Nb), previously known as columbium, is a chemical element with the atomic number 41. It’s primarily a malleable, grey, supple transition metal. Niobium’s main commercial source is from the pyrochlore mineral. The origin of the name is from Greek mythology; or Niobe, the daughter of Tantalus.

Niobium and tantalum have similar physical and chemical properties, making the two difficult to distinguish. Charles Hatchett, an English chemist, reported a new element similar to tantalum in 1801 and named it columbium. In 1809, another English chemist, William Hyde Wollaston, incorrectly concluded that tantalum and columbium were identical. But, in 1846, German chemist, Heinrich Rose, concluded that the tantalum samples contained a second element, which he termed niobium. In the following few years, a series of scientific findings concluded that niobium and columbium were the same element (as distinguished from tantalum), and for a long period of time both terms were used interchangeably. Niobium was officially adopted as the name of the element in 1949, but the name columbium hangs on in current use in metallurgy in the United States.

The main source of this element can be found in the Northeast US, Canada, Brazil, Australia and Nigeria. However, it is commercially prepared as a by-product of tin extraction. Brazil is the largest producer of niobium and ferroniobium (an alloy of niobium and iron). Niobium is used mostly in alloys, the largest part in special steel such as that used in gas pipelines. Niobium is used in various superconducting materials. These superconducting alloys, also containing titanium and tin, are widely used in the superconducting magnets of MRI scanners. High-energy physics researchers use some electron accelerators that include chambers cast from pure or alloyed niobium. When chilled to near absolute zero, these niobium chambers become both highly magnetic and superconducting, which permits researchers to increase the speed of subatomic particles without using ever-increasing amounts of electricity.

It was not until the early 20th century that niobium was first used commercially. With niobium's superconductive properties, use in superconductive magnets has had widespread use in the large–scale generation of electricity. Superconductive properties also make it valuable for space exploration and for research and physics experimentation. Other alloys of niobium, such as those with tin and aluminum, are superconductive as well. Pure niobium is itself a superconductor when it is cooled below 9.25 K (-442.75°F).

Other applications of niobium include its use in welding, nuclear industries, electronics, optics, numismatics and jewelry. In the last two applications, niobium's low toxicity and ability to be colored by anodization are particular advantages. Coating glass with a superfine niobium powder improves the glass's ability to transmit light without absorbing or refracting it. The coating also makes glass more glare-resistant. Niobium-coated glass has applications for camera lenses, along with television and computer screens.

Niobium is used as an alloying agent and for jewelry. Other uses include adding small amounts to improve stainless steel, as an alloying agent in carbon and alloy steels and in non-ferrous metals to improve strength. It is key element in manufacture of jet engines and rockets.


Niobium rod is worked cold from ingot to final diameter. Forging, rolling, swaging, and drawing are used singularly or in combination to reach the desired size.

The metal is used in arc welding rods for some stabilized grades of stainless steel and is also used as a material in anodes for cathodic protection systems.

Superconductive wire can be made from an alloy of niobium and titanium which can then be used to make superconductive magnets.


ESPI provides high purity wire and rod in many different elements for distribution to universities, research labs and manufacturing companies in numerous purities and form factors (i.e., foil, sheet, ribbon, shot, pellets, pieces, powder, sputtering targets, discs and custom fabricated parts). We are able to fabricate all the above to your specification. For form overviews on wire and rod manufacturing or additional detailed information on ESPI's other production offerings, click here.

To view various forms and purities of Molybdenum, click on the Niobium On-Line Catalog page.


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Atomic Number:


Atomic Weight:



8.57 gm/cc

Melting Point:

2468 oC

Boiling Point:

4742 oC

Thermal Conductivity:

0.537 W/cm/K @ 298.2 K

Electrical Resistivity:

12.5 microhm-cm @ 0 oC


1.6 Paulings

Specific Heat:

0.064 Cal/g/K @ 25 oC

Heat of Vaporization:


Heat of Fusion:

6.5 Cal/gm mole






Material Safety Data Sheet - MSDS
Niobium  MSDS
Technical Data Sheets
Understanding Mesh Sizes