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12 Strongest Metals on Earth | Based on Yield and Tensile Strength

[Estimated read time: 6 minutes]

Can you imagine what would have happened if our ancestors hadn’t discovered important metals such as silver, gold, titanium, and iron, we would be living in huts, using stone as tools and ultimately living the life of stone men. These metals played an important role in shaping our past and are now working as a foundation from where we are building our future.

Keeping in mind the fact that every metal or mineral found in Earth’s crust is valuable for humans in one way or the other, only a few metals are of extreme importance to us. These are mostly classified as “strong” metals. You probably know that natural metals are mostly weak but impurities and inclusion of other metals and elements make them much stronger. So don’t you want to know what are the few strongest metals on Earth?

There are a couple of things that you should know before starting with the list-

Young’s Modulus: It accounts for the tensile elasticity of an element i.e. the tendency of an object to deform along an axis.

Yield Strength: Yield strength/stress defines the maximum stress limit of a material after which it starts showing plastic behavior.

Note: In this list, we haven’t included any major alloys, but impure versions of natural metals are taken into account.

12. Lead

Lead

Young’s Modulus: 16 GPa
Tensile Strength:12 MPa

Although natural lead is soft, its low melting point and high corrosion resistance make it a highly desirable element across various industries. On Earth, lead is one of the commonly found elements alongside sulfur. It is now a well-accepted fact that lead was known to humans, even before 6000 BCE, and was probably used for metal smelting.

The most common use of lead is for making various types of strong alloys. It has been used to make bullets since the middle ages. Other uses of lead are: as coloring agents, oxidants, in plastics, candles, glass, and semiconductors

11. Tin

tinSolidified Molten Tin Image Courtesy: Jurii

Young’s Modulus: 47 GPa
Yield Strength: 9–14 MPa
Tensile Strength: 15 MPa

Tin is mostly used in alloys, most notably tin/lead soft solders, which are typically 60% or more tin. Another large application for tin is corrosion-resistant tin plating of steel. Inorganic tin compounds are rather non-toxic. Because of its low toxicity, tin-plated metal was used for food packaging as tin cans, which are actually made mostly of steel or aluminium.

10. Aluminium

aluminium

Young’s Modulus: 70 GPa
Yield Strength: 15–20 MPa
Tensile Strength: 40–50 MPa

Aluminium constitutes about less than 10% of the Earth’s crust (by mass) and is the third most abundant element only after oxygen and silicon. While pure aluminium has a yield strength of about 15-20 MPa and weak, aluminium alloys are more powerful and have yield strengths of around 200 MPa to 600 MPa.

Aluminium is perhaps the most extensively used non-ferrous metal on Earth. It’s used to make parts of automobiles, aircrafts, food containers, electrical lines, and coins.

9. Gold

GOLD

Young’s Modulus: 70 GPa
Tensile strength:  100 MPa

Gold is one of the most precious, and sought after material on the Earth. Not only that, according to the current understanding, gold is actually originated from supernova explosions in the distant space. Gold is the most ductile of all known elements.

Gold is mostly used in jewelry, electronics and in medicine. Approximately 10% of the total gold production goes to the electronic industry where it is used to fabricate corrosion resistant connectors.

8. Silver

silver

Young’s Modulus: 83 GPa
Tensile Strength: 170 MPa

From historic times, silver has maintained its significance as one of the precious metals in the world. In terms of physical and chemical properties, silver is quite similar to that of gold and copper, two of its neighbors in the periodic table. Alongside its use in currency, it’s also used to make ornaments, tableware, and solar panels.

7. Titanium

Young’s Modulus: 120 GPa
Yield Strength: 100–225 MPa
Tensile Strength: 246–370 MPa

Titanium is one of the ten most abundant metal on the Earth and it’s mostly found in igneous rocks as oxides. It is strong but have slightly less density than that of gold and also known for its superior strength-to-weight ratio.

Titanium is mostly used as an alloying element in various types of alloys to achieve greater strength and power. Due to its high corrosion resistance property and tensile strength, titanium has become a staple material in aerospace and shipping industry. It also has a practical use in Juno spacecraft as a radiation shield for onboard electronics.

6. Chromium

chromite oreChromite Ore

Young’s Modulus: 140 GPa
Tensile Strength: 282 MPa

The chromium is hard, lustrous and has one of the highest melting point of any metal found on earth’s crust. It’s known for its unusual magnetic properties; it shows antiferromagnetic properties at normal room temperatures but above 38 °C it changes to paramagnetic metal. It’s the 22nd most abundant element found on Earth and is mostly extracted from earth minerals such as Kimberlite.

Almost 85% mined chromium is accounted for producing metal alloys and the rest is used for dying, coating, producing refractory material and as a catalyst for processing hydrocarbons.

5. Copper

copperOld Copper utensils in Jerusalem

Young’s Modulus: 130 GPa
Yield Strength: 117 MPa
Tensile Strength: 210 MPa

Copper is one of very few elements that occur naturally in a usable metallic form which doesn’t need to be extracted from a mineral ore. Due to this rare characteristic, cooper is used by early humans, even before 7000 B.C and alloyed with tin to make bronze in 4000 B.C. Naturally copper is soft and ductile and a good conductor of heat and electricity.

Copper is mainly used in heavy duty cable wires, plumbing and machine parts. Do you know that an average human body contains about 1.4 to 2.1 mg/kg of copper. Wilson’s disease, an inherited condition that causes the body to retain copper which can lead to severe brain and liver damage.

4. Nickel

nickelNickel Bar

Young’s Modulus: 170 GPa
Yield Strength: 140–350 MPa
Tensile Strength: 140–195 MPa

Nickel belongs to the group of transition metals and it’s extremely hard and ductile. Here on Earth, nickel occurs mostly in minerals with the combination of sulfur, such as pentlandite, millerite, and nickeline. According to an estimate, Australia has the Nickel largest reserve in the world.

More than 60% of the nickel produced annually is used to make stainless steel, the rest is used for nonferrous alloys, alloy steel etc. Other uses of nickel are coins, rechargeable batteries, microphone and guitar strings among other similar things.

3. Tantalum

TantaliteTantalite Ore

Young’s Modulus: 186 GPa
Yield Strength: 180 MPa
Tensile Strength: 200 MPa

Apart from the fact that tantalum is a strong metal, it is also one of the densest material on the Earth. It is known for its high corrosion tolerance even below 150 °C. Earlier known as tantalium, the element belongs to the refractory group of metals such as tungsten, which constitutes a minor portion in various of alloys.

Read: 15 Densest Materials on Earth | Volumetric Mass Density

Tantalum is mainly used in electronics sector to produce durable, heavy duty capacitors for telephones, home computers, cameras and even for electronic devices in automobiles.

2. Iron/Steel

steel furnanceSteel Furnace

Young’s Modulus: 186 GPa
Yield Strength: 180 MPa
Tensile Strength: 200 MPa

Iron is perhaps the most common element on Earth by mass and one of the four most abundant metals known to us. As mentioned above, iron as a pure substance is relatively weak, but due to its minimal mining costs, it’s often combined with other elements to produce steel. While there are many varieties of steel produced today, they are basically an integral material for constructing buildings, automobiles, ships, tools and many other valuable things.

1. Tungsten

Tungsten filamentTungsten Filament inside a lamp

Young’s Modulus: 411 GPa
Yield Strength: 550 MPa
Tensile Strength: 550–620 MPa

Tungsten is known for its highest melting point and unparalleled robustness. It was discovered in a form of acid for the very first time in 1781 by Swedish and German chemist Carl Scheele. Further studies lead two Spanish scientists Fausto and Jose Elhuyar to discover the same acid from the Wolframite mineral from which they later isolated tungsten with the help of charcoal.

Read: 26 Strongest Materials Known To Human

Apart from its extensive use in bulb filaments, tungsten’s  ability to function under extreme heat makes it one of the most desirable elements for the arms industry. During the World War II, it had a major part in initiating economic and political dealings among the European countries. As the largest tungsten producer in that region, Portugal gained a partial importance from both sides.

Apart from arms industry, tungsten is also used to build hard alloys and in the aerospace industry to make rocket nozzles.