An alloy of cobalt, called Alnico, which also contains aluminum, nickel, and iron, is used for making magnets; other cobalt alloys, being very hard, are used for cutting tools. Cobalt is used as the matrix for tungsten carbide in drill bits. Its colored salts are used in blue glass and the artists' pigment cobalt blue. Cobalt catalysts facilitate hydrogenation and other industrial processes. The radioisotope cobalt-60 is used as a source of gamma rays, in radiation therapy and tracer studies, and has also been used in some countries to irradiate food to preserve it..
Cobalt is an essential element for humans since it is part of vitamin B12. The amount needed is very small, and an avergae person's body contains only about 1 milligram of the element.
Cobalt's characteristic oxidation states are +2 and +3.
Related category INORGANIC CHEMISTRY
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