About half the tantalum consumed each year is used within the electronics industry, mainly as powder and wire for capacitors. As the market moves to greater miniaturization, the tantalum capacitor is favored in space-sensitive, high-end applications in telecommunications, data storage and implantable medical devices.
Tantalum is a critical component in the manufacture of state-of-the art semiconductors. Using the physical vapor deposition (PVD) process, tantalum is "sputtered" onto semiconductor substrates to form a thin film diffusion barrier to protect the copper interconnects. Tantalum sputtering targets are used in a variety of other products, including magnetic storage media, inkjet printer heads and flat panel displays.
Engine turbine blades
The metal's high melting point and resistance to corrosion makes it suitable for alloying applications. Tantalum is used in nickel based superalloys where the principal applications are turbine blades for aircraft engines and land based gas turbines.
Chemical processing equipment
Tantalum's high resistance to corrosion and high temperature makes the metal an ideal material of construction for liners in vessels, piping, valves and heat exchangers in the chemical and pharmaceutical industries.
Tantalum is used in a range of other applications requiring strength, ductility, toughness, corrosion resistance, thermal conductivity and high melting point: