Molybdenum vs Tungsten – What’s the Difference

Molybdenum vs Tungsten

Metals have been used for multiple purposes with unique properties serving science and technology. Many metallic elements share chemical and physical properties similarities, making them hard to distinguish. Two such elements are tungsten and molybdenum. These elements have similar properties and atomic structures but exhibit some differences that contribute to their uniqueness. This blog post investigates the differences between molybdenum and tungsten and explores the various properties that make them unique.

Difference Between Molybdenum and Tungsten

Atomic Structure and Properties:

Molybdenum and tungsten belong to the same group in the periodic table, but they have different atomic structures. Molybdenum has an atomic number of 42, with 42 protons and 54 neutrons, whereas tungsten has an atomic number of 74, with 74 protons and 110 neutrons. The atomic radius of tungsten is the smallest when measured among all metallic elements, while molybdenum has a lower melting point of 2622 degrees Celsius compared to tungsten’s 3410 degrees Celsius.


Despite their similarities, molybdenum and tungsten have different uses. Molybdenum is mostly used in producing steel alloys and providing anti-corrosion properties to various materials, whereas tungsten is used for manufacturing cutting tools, high-speed steel, and alloys for the aerospace and defence industries. Tungsten is also used in light bulb filaments because of its high melting point.

Density and Hardness:

Tungsten is one of the densest metals, with a density of 19.25 grams per cubic centimetre, which makes it twice as heavy as steel. On the other hand, molybdenum has a density of 10.22 grams per cubic centimetre. Both metals are hard and difficult to fracture, which makes them ideal for industrial and technological applications.


Molybdenum and tungsten are rare, and their extraction is complex and expensive. The cost of tungsten is usually higher than that of molybdenum due to its more robust atomic structure and range of applications. This is why tungsten is called a strategic metal, as it’s used in high-end equipment where tolerance to high temperatures is critical.


Tungsten is considered a heavy metal, and its usage has raised concerns about toxicity. On the other hand, molybdenum is not considered hazardous to health and is an essential nutrient for humans, as it’s required for enzyme reactions in the body.


Molybdenum and tungsten are two elements that are often met with confusion. Although their atomic structures are similar, they exhibit various properties that set them apart. Molybdenum is used mainly for its anti-corrosion properties, while tungsten is used for its strength and durability. Their unique properties make them indispensable materials for a range of applications. Understanding their differences and properties can inform industry and researchers and help us make informed choices.

Minal Jogale

Minal Jogale

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