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BIONIK Niobium Silver Bimetallic Coin 25€ Euro Austria 2012


As eye-catching, innovative and informative as its predecessors, Bionik, the exquisite purple 2012 addition to our 25 euro Silver Niobium series, pays fitting tribute to how evolution in the natural world acts as a prototype for technology. Comes in a case complete with a numbered certificate of authenticity and protective slipcase.

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Niobium, formerly columbium, is a chemical element with symbol Nb (formerly Cb) and atomic number 41. It is a soft, grey, ductile transition metal, which is often found in the pyrochlore mineral, the main commercial source for niobium, and columbite. The name comes from Greek mythology: Niobe, daughter of Tantalus since it is so similar to tantalum.
Niobium has physical and chemical properties similar to those of the element tantalum, and the two are therefore difficult to distinguish. The English chemist Charles Hatchett reported a new element similar to tantalum in 1801 and named it columbium. In 1809, the English chemist William Hyde Wollaston wrongly concluded that tantalum and columbium were identical. The German chemist Heinrich Rose determined in 1846 that tantalum ores contain a second element, which he named niobium. In 1864 and 1865, a series of scientific findings clarified that niobium and columbium were the same element (as distinguished from tantalum), and for a century both names were used interchangeably. Niobium was officially adopted as the name of the element in 1949, but the name columbium remains in current use in metallurgy in the United States.
It was not until the early 20th century that niobium was first used commercially. Brazil is the leading producer of niobium and ferroniobium, an alloy of niobium and iron. Niobium is used mostly in alloys, the largest part in special steel such as that used in gas pipelines. Although these alloys contain a maximum of 0.1%, the small percentage of niobium enhances the strength of the steel. The temperature stability of niobium-containing superalloys is important for its use in jet and rocket engines. Niobium is used in various superconducting materials. These superconducting alloys, also containing titanium and tin, are widely used in the superconducting magnets of MRI scanners. Other applications of niobium include its use in welding, nuclear industries, electronics, optics, numismatics, and jewelry. In the last two applications, niobium's low toxicity and ability to be colored by anodization are particular advantages.

  • CountryAustria
  • Year2012
  • Face Value25 Euro
  • MetalSilver
  • Fineness (purity)900/1000
  • Weight (g)16.50
  • Diameter (mm)34
  • QualityBU - Brilliant Uncirculated
  • Mintage (pcs)65.000
  • Certificate (COA)Yes
  • Presentation case (box)Yes

Evolutionary pressure typically forces living organisms to become highly optimised and efficient. A prime example is the water-repellent nature of the lotus flower and of shark skin, a phenomenon fundamental in the development of paint. By the same token, the chambered shell of the nautilus has influenced architectural design and the mechanics of bird flight have clearly inspired aviation. All four of these examples feature on the coin’s obverse, while its reverse focuses on the use of bionics in architecture. A radiolarian, the plankton that inspired Spanish modernist architect Antoni Gaudí, is depicted in the foreground, while the reverse’s background shows an interior view of Munich’s Olympic Stadium, the roof of which was based on findings in bionics.

With a maximum mintage of 65,000 pieces in Special Uncirculated quality only, the coin contains 9 grammes of 900 fine silver in its outer ring nearly 7 grammes of 998 pure niobium. Each coin is encapsulated, boxed and comes complete with a numbered certificate guaranteeing its authenticity.