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Tetrahedrite, Hübnerite, Quartz - 176605.jpg
Tetrahedrite, hübnerite and quartz from Mundo Nuevo Mine, Huamachuco, Sánchez Carrión, La Libertad, Peru (size: 61 x 57 mm, 110 g)
Category Sulfosalt mineral
(repeating unit)
Strunz classification 2.GB.05
Crystal system Cubic
Crystal class Hextetrahedral (43m)
H-M symbol: (4 3m)
Space group I43m
Unit cell a = 10.39(16) Å; Z = 2
Color Steel gray to iron-gray
Crystal habit Groups of tetrahedral crystals; massive, coarse to fine compact granular
Twinning Contact and penetration twins on {111}
Cleavage None
Fracture Uneven to subconchoidal
Tenacity Somewhat brittle
Mohs scale hardness3 12 - 4
Luster Metallic, commonly splendent
Streak Black, brown to dark red
Diaphaneity Opaque, except in very thin fragments
Specific gravity 4.97
Optical properties Isotropic
Refractive index n greater than 2.72
References [1][2]

Tetrahedrite is a copper antimony sulfosalt mineral with formula: (Cu,Fe)
. It is the antimony endmember of the continuous solid solution series with arsenic-bearing tennantite. Pure endmembers of the series are seldom if ever seen in nature. Of the two, the antimony rich phase is more common. Other elements also substitute in the structure, most notably iron and zinc, along with less common silver, mercury and lead. Bismuth also substitutes for the antimony site and bismuthian tetrahedrite or annivite is a recognized variety. The related, silver dominant, mineral species freibergite, although rare, is notable in that it can contain up to 18% silver.

Tetrahedrite gets its name from the distinctive tetrahedron shaped cubic crystals. The mineral usually occurs in massive form, it is a steel gray to black metallic mineral with Mohs hardness of 3.5 to 4 and specific gravity of 4.6 to 5.2.

It occurs in low to moderate temperature hydrothermal veins and in some contact metamorphic deposits. It is a minor ore of copper and associated metals. It was first described in 1845 for occurrences in Freiberg, Saxony, Germany.


California-based Alphabet Energy announced plans to offer a thermoelectric device based on tetrahedrite to turn heat into electricity. The company claimed that other thermoelectrics typically produce about 2.5 percent efficiency, while tetrahedrite could achieve 5 to 10 percent.[3]

Other thermoelectrics are either scarce, expensive ($24–146/kg vs $4 for tetrahedrite) and/or toxic. Working with a natural material also reduces manufacturing costs, which otherwise chemically process pure materials.[3]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Handbook of Mineralogy
  2. ^ "Tetrahedrite: Tetrahedrite mineral information and data". Mindat.org. 2014-07-12. Retrieved 2014-07-17.
  3. ^ a b Jacobs, Suzanne (2014-07-12). "Cheaper Thermoelectric Materials | MIT Technology Review". Technologyreview.com. Retrieved 2014-07-17.

External links[edit]

Media related to Tetrahedrite at Wikimedia Commons