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bismuth oxide is a yellow to orange tetragonal powder that has an amorphous structure and p-type conductivity. It is insoluble in acid and in water. It is a powerful oxidizer, capable of oxidizing manganates and chromates. It is used in the production of other bismuth compounds, such as bismuth nitrate and bismuth subsalicylate. It is also used to make glass and for a range of coatings.
It is a useful electrocatalyst for carbon dioxide reduction to formate. It can achieve a current density of 288 mA cm-2 versus reversible hydrogen electrode under ambient conditions. It is particularly effective in the presence of structural defects (dislocations) on the surface, which provide a large active area and improve selectivity. It is also an important precursor in the preparation of BiFeO3 perovskite nanoparticles. It is also widely used in pyrotechnics, where it produces the distinctive “dragon’s eggs” effect.
Inhaled dust may cause respiratory irritation and eye damage. When ingested it can cause gastrointestinal discomfort, stomach pain, nausea and vomiting. Bismuth compounds are generally considered to be less toxic than lead. However, prolonged inhalation of Bismuth dusts can result in mental changes, nervousness, blood changes and lymphocytosis.