NILERED / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY NILERED / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Mercury-aluminium amalgam. Time-lapse footage of the amalgamation reaction between mercury and aluminium, with a drop of mercury at the centre of a square aluminium plate driving the formation of a tower of aluminium hydroxide. An amalgam is an alloy between mercury and another metal. The surface of a piece of aluminium exposed to air is rapidly oxidised and covered with a protective layer of aluminium oxide that prevents any further oxidation. Mercury, however, keeps reacting with the aluminium, producing an amalgam that is oxidised by water to produce aluminium hydroxide. The cycle can continue until much of the aluminium is destroyed.
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