Date of Award


Document Type

Union College Only

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science






In 1782 the element tellurium was discovered by Baron Franz Joseph Miller Von Reichenstein. Muller first isolated the element from Transylvanian gold ore (2). Klaproth verified this work and in 1978 proposed that the substance be called tellurium. The etymology of the work begins with the Latin noun tellus, meaning earth. Students of Roman mythology will recall the ancient deity, Tellus, goddess of marriage and fertility. The history of the discovery of tellurium is a particularly interesting one. Serious students of the element will enjoy reading the account given by Mary Eliva Weeks (3, 4, 5). Telluric acid is a weak dibasic aid, the first and second ionization constants being reported as 2.00 x 10-3 and 9.2 x 10-2 respectively (7). It is a fairly strong oxidizing agent and tends to polymerize in solution. A three-dimensional network may be formed by hydrogen bonding. An important consideration is that telluric acid is not analogous to the other nexavalent group six acids, namely sulphuric (H2SO4) and selenic (H2SEO4) acids. The latter two, unlike telluric acid, contain nonhydroxylic oxygen atoms and are thus much stronger acids.