Nickel is a metallic chemical element with the symbol Ni, atomic number 28 and atomic weight 58.6934. It is a hard, malleable, lustrous, silver-white metal with a face-centred cubic crystalline structure. It is mainly used in the preparation of alloys and is also used as a catalyst, in nickel-cadmium batteries, in electroplating as well as in the manufacturing of glass.
The Swedish mineralogist and chemist Axel Fredrik Cronstedt discovered nickel in 1751 after investigating a mineral (nickeline) which he found in a cobalt mine. He calcined (heated to a high temperature but below melting point) the green crystals that are sometimes found on nickeline (a mineral consisting of nickel arsenide) and then reduced the oxide by heating it with charcoal by which he obtained a white metal (nickel) from the reaction. The nickel which he obtained was not pure, but contaminated with iron, cobalt and arsenic. Nevertheless, he noted its different properties and recognised it as a new metal. Here is a photograph of nickel:
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Here is a portrait of Axel Fredrik Cronstedt:
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