The Instrumentation Center

Nickel

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Contributor: Olivia Schaffner's Chemistry class, Edgerton High School 

About the Display: The display features:

  • Cabinet/drawer pulls - Brushed nickel is a very common finish for cabinet and drawer pulls, along with faucets and other types of household hardware. This finish is accomplished by making the pulls out of another metal, plating them with nickel, and brushing the nickel with a wire brush to put small abrasions in it to take some of the natural shine of the nickel off.
  • Guitar strings - Many strings for electric guitars are either pure nickel or another metal plated with nickel. The specific strings included are nickel plated. Nickel is used because of its resistance to corrosion and wear, no matter how many times the strings are plucked.
  • Handcuffs - Modern handcuffs are made either of stainless steel, which contains nickel, or of another metal that is plated with nickel. Plating another metal with nickel makes the handcuffs strong and unlikely to corrode.
  • Licorice - Many foods contain nickel, including licorice. People with a nickel allergy are advised to avoid eating certain foods because of their nickel content and licorice is on that list.
  • Mixed nuts - Many foods contain nickel, including nuts. Nuts contain nickel because they grow in soil that is contaminated with nickel. Specifically in cashews, the nickel content is 5.1 micrograms/g.
  • Nickelback CD - This item was chosen because its name includes the word nickel, not because it is directly related to the element nickel. The band called themselves Nickelback because one of the members previously worked at a Starbucks and a commonly bought coffee cost $1.45, so people would pay $1.50 for it and he would always give a nickel back.
  • Nickel metal hydride batteries - These are a type of rechargeable battery that, like other batteries, generate electrical power from a chemical reaction. They have one electrode that is made of nickel and one that is made of a metal hydride, usually a lanthanum hydride or another rare earth hydride. The reaction that occurs between the two electrodes generates an electric current.
  • Nickelodeon logo - In the early 1900s, movie theaters commonly charged a nickel to see movies and came to be called nickelodeons. The word is a combination of "nickel" and the Greek word "odéon", which means "covered theater". When the channel Nickelodeon was created, it was named after these theaters.
  • Paper clips - These are usually made of stainless steel, which commonly contains nickel.
  • Thimble - These are nickel-plated so that they are resistant to corrosion and can withstand a lot without wearing.
  • Whisk - Many kitchen utensils, including whisks, are made of stainless steel, which contains nickel. Nickel is used in utensils for its strength, durability, and resistance to corrosion.
  • Wrenches - Many hand tools are nickel-plated because nickel is very tough and is resistant to corrosion. Hand tools are also commonly made of stainless steel, which contains nickel.
  • US coins - Nickels are 25% nickel and 75% copper and quarters and dimes are also made of the same composition of nickel and copper. Nickel was chosen to use in these coins because of its resistance to corrosion.
  • A US nickel (Donated by the Instrumentation Center) - Although a nickel is composed of more copper than nickel, the name comes from the need to distinguish the first nickels minted from the half dime, which were produced at the same time. Half dimes were composed of silver whereas the nickel was (and still is, for now) composed of a copper and nickel alloy. Follow this link for a more complete history of the nickel!
  • Canadian coins (Donated by Lindsay Young) - Canadian coins made before the year 2000, in contrast to US coins, are almost completely made of nickel.
  • nickel spheres - used as melt input for the formation of high strength, corrosion resistant Bulk Metallic Glasses. 

The following experiments were conducted by the contributors:

Fun Facts

  • Nickel is the 2nd most abundant element in the Earth's core.
  • Nickel is one of the most common skin allergens.
  • Nickel is ferromagnetic at room temperature.
  • Nickel is added to glass to give it a green color.
  • The name nickel comes from "kupfernickel", which is a German word meaning devil's copper or St. Nicholas's copper.
  • Some nickel compounds are carcinogenic and may cause cancer if inhaled.
  • Nickel is found in metallic meteorites.
  • The nickel is the only current coin that has a "melt value" that sometimes exceeds its value as a coin, depending on commodity prices.

ni classAbout the Contributor: Ms. Schaffner's 7th period Chemistry class from Edgerton High School in Edgerton, Ohio has 16 sophmores and juniors in it. Pictured in the back row, left to right, are Devin Thiel, Isaac Hamblin, Brody Degryse, Braydon Cape, Isabella Cercone, Rachel Schroeder, Kellie Bleikamp, Claire Flegal, and Catie Gruver. Pictured in the middle row, left to right, are Madissen Fritch and Rebecca Schroeder. Pictured in the front row, left to right, are Milan Thomas, Nick Nye, Hanna Hug, Mady Pahl, and Aubree Herman.

Back to the Periodic Table

Symbol: Ni

Atomic Number: 28

Atomic Mass: 58.6934 u

Electron Configuration: [Ar]4s23d8

Year Discovered: 1751

Discovered By: Axel Fredrik Cronstedt

Last Updated: 5/17/17