Properties & Applications


  • Most of the known metals are transition metals and they have typical properties of metals.
  • They are very lustrous when freshly cut, they are hard, strong and are good conductors of heat and electricity.
  • They are highly dense metals and have very high melting points.
  • Transition metals can have more than one oxidation state as they can lose a different number of electrons, depending on the chemical environment they are in.
  • The melting point, density and common ions of the elements Cr, Mn, Fe, Co, Ni and Cu are shown below.

Properties Table, IGCSE & GCSE Chemistry revision notes

  • Compounds containing transition elements in different oxidation states will have different properties and colours in aqueous solutions.

Transition ion colours, IGCSE & GCSE Chemistry revision notes

The colours produced by ions of the transition elements



  • The transition elements are used extensively as catalysts which are substances that speed up the rate of a reaction without being used up in the process as
  • they do not chemically participate in the reaction.
  • Their catalytic characteristics stem from their ability to interchange between a range of oxidation states.
  • This allows them to form complexes with reagents which can easily donate and accept electrons from other chemical species within a reaction system.
  • Common transition metal catalysts include:
    • Iron which is used in the Haber Process.
    • Vanadium pentoxide (V2O5) is used in the Contact Process to produce sulfuric acid.
    • Nickel is used in the hydrogenation of alkenes.


  • The transition metals are also used in medicine and surgical applications such as limb and joint replacement.
  • Titanium in particular is useful as it is the only element that can bond with bones due to its high biocompatibility.

Other Industrial Applications

  • They are also used to form coloured compounds in dyes and paints for both household and industrial applications.
  • They are used in creating stained glass, jewellery and in anti-corrosive techniques.

AQA GCSE Chemistry Notes

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Morgan Curtin Chemistry

Author: Morgan

Morgan’s passion for the Periodic Table begun on his 10th birthday when he received his first Chemistry set. After studying the subject at university he went on to become a fully fledged Chemistry teacher, and now works in an international school in Madrid! In his spare time he helps create our fantastic resources to help you ace your exams.