Chemically, aluminium is a post-transition metal in the boron group; as is common for the group, aluminium forms compounds primarily in the oxidation state. The aluminium cation is small and highly charged; as such, it is polarizing, and bonds aluminium forms tend towards covalency. The strong affinity towards oxygen leads to aluminium’s common association with oxygen in nature in the form of oxides; for this reason, aluminium is found on Earth primarily in rocks in the crust, where it is the third most abundant element after oxygen and silicon, rather than in the mantle, and virtually never as the free metal.
ALL is stable. This situation is common for elements with an odd atomic number. It is the only primordial aluminium isotope, i.e. the only one that has existed on Earth in its current form since the formation of the planet. Nearly all aluminium on Earth is present as this isotope, which makes it a mononuclidic element and means that its standard atomic weight is virtually the same as that of the isotope. This makes aluminium very useful in nuclear magnetic resonance , as its single stable isotope has a high NMR sensitivity. The standard atomic weight of aluminium is low in comparison with many other metals.
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Aluminium metal has an appearance ranging from silvery white to dull gray, depending on the surface roughness. A fresh film of aluminium serves as a good reflector of visible light and an excellent reflector of medium and far infrared radiation. Aluminium mirrors are the most reflective of all metal mirrors for the near ultraviolet and far infrared light, and one of the most reflective in the visible spectrum, nearly on par with silver, and the two therefore look similar. Aluminium is also good at reflecting solar radiation, although prolonged exposure to sunlight in air adds wear to the surface of the metal; this may be prevented if aluminium is anodized, which adds a protective layer of oxide on the surface.
The underlying core under aluminium’s valence shell is that of the preceding noble gas, whereas those of its heavier congeners gallium, indium, thallium, and nihonium also include a filled d-subshell and in some cases a filled f-subshell. Hence, the inner electrons of aluminium shield the valence electrons almost completely, unlike those of aluminium’s heavier congeners. As such, aluminium is the most electropositive metal in its group, and its hydroxide is in fact more basic than that of gallium. Aluminium also bears minor similarities to the metalloid boron in the same group: AlX3 compounds are valence isoelectronic to BX3 compounds (they have the same valence electronic structure), and both behave as Lewis acids and readily form adducts. Additionally, one of the main motifs of boron chemistry is regular icosahedral structures, and aluminium forms an important part of many icosahedral quasicrystal alloys, including the Al–Zn–Mg class.