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Molybdenite quebec2.jpg
Euhedral molybdenite on quartz, Molly Hill mine, Quebec, Canada. The large crystal is 15 mm across
Category Sulfide mineral
(repeating unit)
Molybdenum disulfide (MoS2)
Strunz classification 2.EA.30
Crystal system Common, 2H polytype: hexagonal
3R polytype: trigonal
Crystal class 2H polytype: dihexagonal dipyramidal (6/mmm)
3R polytype: Ditrigonal pyramidal (3m)
Space group 2H polytype: P63/mmc
3R polytype: R3m
Unit cell 2H polytype: a = 3.16 Å,
c = 12.3 Å; Z = 2
3R polytype: a = 3.16 Å,
c = 18.33 Å; Z = 3
ColorBlack, lead-silvery gray
Crystal habit Thin, platy hexagonal crystals terminated by pinacoidal faces, also as tapering six-sided pyramids that can be truncated by the pinacoids. Also massive, lamellar and in small grains in sulfide ore bodies
Cleavage Perfect on [0001]
Tenacity Lamellae flexible, not elastic
Mohs scale hardness1–1.5
Luster Metallic
Streak Bluish gray
Diaphaneity Nearly opaque; translucent in thin flakes
Specific gravity 4.73
Pleochroism Very strong
Fusibility Infusible (decomposes at 1185 °C)
Other characteristicsIt has a greasy feel and leaves marks on fingers
References [1] [2] [3] [4] [5]

Molybdenite is a mineral of molybdenum disulfide, Mo S 2. Similar in appearance and feel to graphite, molybdenite has a lubricating effect that is a consequence of its layered structure. The atomic structure consists of a sheet of molybdenum atoms sandwiched between sheets of sulfur atoms. The Mo-S bonds are strong, but the interaction between the sulfur atoms at the top and bottom of separate sandwich-like tri-layers is weak, resulting in easy slippage as well as cleavage planes. Molybdenite crystallizes in the hexagonal crystal system as the common polytype 2H and also in the trigonal system as the 3R polytype. [2] [3] [6]

Mineral Element or chemical compound that is normally crystalline and that has been formed as a result of geological processes

A mineral is, broadly speaking, a solid chemical compound that occurs naturally in pure form. Minerals are most commonly associated with rocks due to the presence of minerals within rocks. These rocks may consist of one type of mineral, or may be an aggregate of two or more different types of minerals, spacially segregated into distinct phases. Compounds that occur only in living beings are usually excluded, but some minerals are often biogenic and/or are organic compounds in the sense of chemistry. Moreover, living beings often synthesize inorganic minerals that also occur in rocks.

Molybdenum disulfide chemical compound

Molybdenum disulfide is an inorganic compound composed of molybdenum and sulfur. Its chemical formula is MoS

Sulfur Chemical element with atomic number 16

Sulfur (in non-scientific British use also sulphur) is a chemical element with the symbol S and atomic number 16. It is abundant, multivalent, and nonmetallic. Under normal conditions, sulfur atoms form cyclic octatomic molecules with a chemical formula S8. Elemental sulfur is a bright yellow, crystalline solid at room temperature.




A sample of molybdenite mineral less pure than the single-crystal specimen above. Molybdenit 1.jpg
A sample of molybdenite mineral less pure than the single-crystal specimen above.

Molybdenite occurs in high temperature hydrothermal ore deposits. Its associated minerals include pyrite, chalcopyrite, quartz, anhydrite, fluorite, and scheelite. Important deposits include the disseminated porphyry molybdenum deposits at Questa, New Mexico and the Henderson and Climax mines in Colorado. Molybdenite also occurs in porphyry copper deposits of Arizona, Utah, and Mexico.

Ore rock with valuable metals, minerals and elements

An ore is a natural occurrence of rock or sediment that contains sufficient minerals with economically important elements, typically metals, that can be economically extracted from the deposit. The ores are extracted at a profit from the earth through mining; they are then refined to extract the valuable element, or elements.

Pyrite sulfide mineral

The mineral pyrite, or iron pyrite, also known as fool's gold, is an iron sulfide with the chemical formula FeS2 (iron(II) disulfide). Pyrite is considered the most common of the sulfide minerals.

Chalcopyrite sulfide mineral

Chalcopyrite ( KAL-ko-PY-ryt) is a copper iron sulfide mineral that crystallizes in the tetragonal system. It has the chemical formula CuFeS2. It has a brassy to golden yellow color and a hardness of 3.5 to 4 on the Mohs scale. Its streak is diagnostic as green tinged black.

Molybdenite under normal and polarized light Molybdenite Under normal and polarized light.jpg
Molybdenite under normal and polarized light

The element rhenium is always present in molybdenite as a substitute for molybdenum, usually in the parts per million (ppm) range, but often up to 1–2%. High rhenium content results in a structural variety detectable by X-ray diffraction techniques. Molybdenite ores are essentially the only source for rhenium. The presence of the radioactive isotope rhenium-187 and its daughter isotope osmium-187 provides a useful geochronologic dating technique.

Rhenium Chemical element with atomic number 75

Rhenium is a chemical element with the symbol Re and atomic number 75. It is a silvery-gray, heavy, third-row transition metal in group 7 of the periodic table. With an estimated average concentration of 1 part per billion (ppb), rhenium is one of the rarest elements in the Earth's crust. Rhenium has the third-highest melting point and highest boiling point of any stable element at 5903 K. Rhenium resembles manganese and technetium chemically and is mainly obtained as a by-product of the extraction and refinement of molybdenum and copper ores. Rhenium shows in its compounds a wide variety of oxidation states ranging from −1 to +7.

Osmium Chemical element with atomic number 76

Osmium is a chemical element with the symbol Os and atomic number 76. It is a hard, brittle, bluish-white transition metal in the platinum group that is found as a trace element in alloys, mostly in platinum ores. Osmium is the densest naturally occurring element, with an experimentally measured density of 22.59 g/cm3. Manufacturers use its alloys with platinum, iridium, and other platinum-group metals to make fountain pen nib tipping, electrical contacts, and in other applications that require extreme durability and hardness. The element's abundance in the Earth's crust is among the rarest.

Geochronology Science of determining the age of rocks, sediments and fossils

Geochronology is the science of determining the age of rocks, fossils, and sediments using signatures inherent in the rocks themselves. Absolute geochronology can be accomplished through radioactive isotopes, whereas relative geochronology is provided by tools such as palaeomagnetism and stable isotope ratios. By combining multiple geochronological indicators the precision of the recovered age can be improved.


Crystal structure of molybdenite Molybdenite.GIF
Crystal structure of molybdenite

Molybdenite is extremely soft with a metallic luster, and is superficially almost identical to graphite, to the point where it is not possible to positively distinguish between the two minerals without scientific equipment. It marks paper in much the same way as graphite. Its distinguishing feature from graphite is its higher specific gravity, as well as its tendency to occur in a matrix.

Matrix (geology) Finer-grained material in a rock within which coarser material is embedded

The matrix or groundmass of a rock is the finer-grained mass of material in which larger grains, crystals or clasts are embedded.


Molybdenite is an important ore of molybdenum, and is the most common source of the metal. [3] While molybdenum is rare in the Earth's crust, molybdenite is relatively common and easy to process, and accounts for much of the metal's economic viability. Molybdenite is purified by froth flotation, and then oxidized to form soluble molybdate. Reduction of ammonium molybdate yields pure molybdenum metal, which is used for fertilizer, as a catalyst, and in battery electrodes. By far the most common use of molybdenum is as an alloy with iron. Ferromolybdenum is an important component of high strength and corrosion-resistant steel.

Froth flotation method for the separation of mixtures in process engineering

Froth flotation is a process for selectively separating hydrophobic materials from hydrophilic. This is used in mineral processing, paper recycling and waste-water treatment industries. Historically this was first used in the mining industry, where it was one of the great enabling technologies of the 20th century. It has been described as "the single most important operation used for the recovery and upgrading of sulfide ores". The development of froth flotation has improved the recovery of valuable minerals, such as copper- and lead-bearing minerals. Along with mechanized mining, it has allowed the economic recovery of valuable metals from much lower grade ore than previously.

Molybdate anion, oxysalt

In chemistry a molybdate is a compound containing an oxoanion with molybdenum in its highest oxidation state of 6. Molybdenum can form a very large range of such oxoanions which can be discrete structures or polymeric extended structures, although the latter are only found in the solid state.The larger oxoanions are members of group of compounds termed polyoxometalates, and because they contain only one type of metal atom are often called isopolymetalates. The discrete molybdenum oxoanions range in size from the simplest MoO2−
, found in potassium molybdate up to extremely large structures found in isopoly-molybdenum blues that contain for example 154 Mo atoms. The behaviour of molybdenum is different from the other elements in group 6. Chromium only forms the chromates, CrO2−
, Cr
, Cr
and Cr
ions which are all based on tetrahedral chromium. Tungsten is similar to molybdenum and forms many tungstates containing 6 coordinate tungsten.

Ferro molybdenum is an important iron-molybdenum metal alloy, with a molybdenum content of 60-75% It is the main source for molybdenum alloying of HSLA steel.


Multilayer molybdenite flakes are semiconductors with an indirect bandgap. In contrast, monolayer flakes have a direct gap. [7] In the early years of the 20th century, molybdenite was used in some of the first crude semiconductor diodes, called cat's whisker detectors, which served as a demodulator in early crystal radios. Monolayer molybdenite shows good charge carrier mobility and can be used to create small or low-voltage transistors. [8] The transistors can detect and emit light and may have future use in optoelectronics. [9]

A semiconductor material has an electrical conductivity value falling between that of a conductor, such as metallic copper, and an insulator, such as glass. Its resistance decreases as its temperature increases, which is the behaviour opposite to that of a metal. Its conducting properties may be altered in useful ways by the deliberate, controlled introduction of impurities ("doping") into the crystal structure. Where two differently-doped regions exist in the same crystal, a semiconductor junction is created. The behavior of charge carriers which include electrons, ions and electron holes at these junctions is the basis of diodes, transistors and all modern electronics. Some examples of semiconductors are silicon, germanium, gallium arsenide, and elements near the so-called "metalloid staircase" on the periodic table. After silicon, gallium arsenide is the second most common semiconductor and is used in laser diodes, solar cells, microwave-frequency integrated circuits and others. Silicon is a critical element for fabricating most electronic circuits.

Direct and indirect band gaps

In semiconductor physics, the band gap of a semiconductor can be of two basic types, a direct band gap or an indirect band gap. The minimal-energy state in the conduction band and the maximal-energy state in the valence band are each characterized by a certain crystal momentum (k-vector) in the Brillouin zone. If the k-vectors are different, the material has an "indirect gap". The band gap is called "direct" if the crystal momentum of electrons and holes is the same in both the conduction band and the valence band; an electron can directly emit a photon. In an "indirect" gap, a photon cannot be emitted because the electron must pass through an intermediate state and transfer momentum to the crystal lattice.

Crystal radio simple radio receiver circuit used mostly for AM reception

A crystal radio receiver, also called a crystal set, is a simple radio receiver, popular in the early days of radio. It uses only the power of the received radio signal to produce sound, needing no external power. It is named for its most important component, a crystal detector, originally made from a piece of crystalline mineral such as galena. This component is now called a diode.

See also

Related Research Articles

Graphite Allotrope of carbon, mineral, substance

Graphite, archaically referred to as plumbago, is a crystalline form of the element carbon with its atoms arranged in a hexagonal structure. It occurs naturally in this form and is the most stable form of carbon under standard conditions. Under high pressures and temperatures it converts to diamond. Graphite is used in pencils and lubricants. Its high conductivity makes it useful in electronic products such as electrodes, batteries, and solar panels.

Group 6 element group of chemical elements

Group 6, numbered by IUPAC style, is a group of elements in the periodic table. Its members are chromium (Cr), molybdenum (Mo), tungsten (W), and seaborgium (Sg). These are all transition metals and chromium, molybdenum and tungsten are refractory metals. The period 8 elements of group 6 are likely to be either unpenthexium (Uph) or unpentoctium (Upo). This may not be possible; drip instability may imply that the periodic table ends around unbihexium. Neither unpenthexium nor unpentoctium have been synthesized, and it is unlikely that this will happen in the near future.

Arsenopyrite sulfide mineral

Arsenopyrite is an iron arsenic sulfide (FeAsS). It is a hard metallic, opaque, steel grey to silver white mineral with a relatively high specific gravity of 6.1. When dissolved in nitric acid, it releases elemental sulfur. When arsenopyrite is heated, it produces poisonous sulfur and arsenic fumes which can be fatal if inhaled in large quantities. With 46% arsenic content, arsenopyrite, along with orpiment, is a principal ore of arsenic. When deposits of arsenopyrite become exposed to the atmosphere, the mineral will slowly oxidize, converting the arsenopyrite into an iron arsenate, a relatively stable compound. Arsenopyrite is generally an acid consuming sulfide mineral unlike iron pyrite which can lead to acid mine drainage.

Bornite sulfide mineral

Bornite, also known as peacock ore, is a sulfide mineral with chemical composition Cu5FeS4 that crystallizes in the orthorhombic system (pseudo-cubic).

Powellite molybdate mineral

Powellite is a calcium molybdate mineral with formula CaMoO4. Powellite crystallizes with tetragonal - dipyramidal crystal structure as transparent adamantine blue, greenish brown, yellow to grey typically anhedral forms. It exhibits distinct cleavage and has a brittle to conchoidal fracture. It has a Mohs hardness of 3.5 to 4 and a specific gravity of 4.25. It forms a solid solution series with scheelite (calcium tungstate, CaWO4). It has refractive index values of nω=1.974 and nε=1.984.

Cobaltite sulfide mineral

Cobaltite is a sulfide mineral composed of cobalt, arsenic, and sulfur, CoAsS. Its impurities may contains up to 10% iron and variable amounts of nickel. Structurally, it resembles pyrite (FeS2) with one of the sulfur atoms replaced by an arsenic atom.

Molybdite Molybdenum oxide mineral

Molybdite is the naturally occurring mineral form of molybdenum trioxide MoO3. It occurs as yellow to greenish needles and crystallizes in the orthorhombic crystal system.

Rheniite Rhenium sulfide mineral

Rheniite is a very rare rhenium sulfide mineral (ReS2). It forms metallic, silver grey platey crystals in the triclinic - pinacoidal class. It has a specific gravity of 7.5.

Native metal Metal that is found in its metallic form, either pure or as an alloy, in nature

A native metal is any metal that is found pure in its metallic form in nature. Metals that can be found as native deposits singly or in alloys include aluminium, antimony, arsenic, bismuth, cadmium, chromium, cobalt, indium, iron, manganese, molybdenum, nickel, niobium, rhenium, selenium, tantalum, tellurium, tin, titanium, tungsten, vanadium, and zinc, as well as two groups of metals: the gold group, and the platinum group. The gold group consists of gold, copper, lead, aluminium, mercury, and silver. The platinum group consists of platinum, iridium, osmium, palladium, rhodium, and ruthenium. Amongst the alloys found in native state have been brass, bronze, pewter, German silver, osmiridium, electrum, white gold, and silver-mercury and gold-mercury amalgam.

Drysdallite is a rare molybdenum selenium sulfide mineral with formula Mo(Se,S)2. It crystallizes in the hexagonal system as small pyramidal crystals or in cleavable masses. It is an opaque metallic mineral with a Mohs hardness of 1 to 1.5 and a specific gravity of 6.25. Like molybdenite it is pliable with perfect cleavage.

Climax mine

The Climax mine, located in Climax, Colorado, United States, is a major molybdenum mine in Lake and Summit counties, Colorado. Shipments from the mine began in 1915. At its highest output, the Climax mine was the largest molybdenum mine in the world, and for many years it supplied three-fourths of the world's supply of molybdenum.

Henderson molybdenum mine

The Henderson molybdenum mine is a large underground molybdenum mine west of the town of Empire in Clear Creek County, Colorado, USA. The Henderson mine, which has produced molybdenum since 1976, is owned by Freeport-McMoRan.

Ferrimolybdite molybdate mineral

Ferrimolybdite is a hydrous iron molybdate mineral with formula: Fe3+2(MoO4)3·8(H2O) or Fe3+2(MoO4)3·n(H2O). It forms coatings and radial aggregates of soft yellow needles which crystallize in the orthorhombic system.

Lindgrenite copper molybdate mineral

Lindgrenite is an uncommon copper molybdate mineral with formula: Cu3(MoO4)2(OH)2. It occurs as tabular to platey monoclinic green to yellow green crystals.

Molybdenum mining in the United States

Molybdenum mining in the United States produced 65,500 metric tons of molybdenum in 2014, worth US$1.8 billion. The US was the world's second-largest molybdenum producer, after China, and provided 25% of the world's supply of molybdenum.

Ekplexite is a unique sulfide-hydroxide niobium-rich mineral with the formula (Nb,Mo)S2•(Mg1−xAlx)(OH)2+x. It is unique because niobium is usually found in oxide or, eventually, silicate minerals. Ekplexite is a case in which chalcophile behaviour of niobium is shown, which means niobium present in a sulfide mineral. The unique combination of elements in ekplexite has to do with its name, which comes from a Greek world on "surprise". The other example of chalcophile behaviour of niobium is edgarite, FeNb3S6, and both minerals were found in the same environment, which is a fenitic rock of Mt. Kaskasnyunchorr, Khibiny Massif, Kola Peninsula, Russia. Analysis of the same rock has revealed the presence of two analogues of ekplexite, kaskasite (molybdenum-analogue) and manganokaskasite (molybdenum- and manganese-analogue). All three minerals belong to the valleriite group, and crystallize in the trigonal system with similar possible space groups.

Tugarinovite is a rare molybdenum oxide mineral with formula MoO2. It occurs as a primary mineral phase associated with metasomatism in a sulfur deficient reducing environment. In the type locality it occurs with uraninite, molybdenite, galena, zircon and wulfenite.


  1. Mineralienatlas
  2. 1 2 Handbook of Mineralogy
  3. 1 2 3
  4. Webmineral data for Molybdenite
  5. Dana's Manual of Mineralogy ISBN   0-471-03288-3
  6. Molybdenite 3R on Mindat
  7. "Atomically Thin MoS2: A New Direct-Gap Semiconductor". 24 Sep 2010.
  8. "Molybdenite transistor is a first". 8 Feb 2011.
  9. First light from molybdenite transistors. 19 Apr 2013