Platinum is a chemical element with symbol Pt and atomic number 78. It
is a dense, malleable, ductile, highly unreactive, precious,
silverish-white transition metal. Its name is derived from the Spanish
term platina, meaning "little silver".
Platinum is a member of the platinum group of elements and group 10 of
the periodic table of elements. It has six naturally occurring
isotopes. It is one of the rarer elements in Earth's crust, with an
average abundance of approximately 5 μg/kg. It occurs in some
nickel and copper ores along with some native deposits, mostly in
South Africa, which accounts for 80% of the world production. Because
of its scarcity in Earth's crust, only a few hundred tonnes are
produced annually, and given its important uses, it is highly valuable
and is a major precious metal commodity.
Platinum is one of the least reactive metals. It has remarkable
resistance to corrosion, even at high temperatures, and is therefore
considered a noble metal. Consequently, platinum is often found
chemically uncombined as native platinum. Because it occurs naturally
in the alluvial sands of various rivers, it was first used by
pre-Columbian South American natives to produce artifacts. It was
referenced in European writings as early as 16th century, but it was
Antonio de Ulloa
Antonio de Ulloa published a report on a new metal of
Colombian origin in 1748 that it began to be investigated by
Platinum is used in catalytic converters, laboratory equipment,
electrical contacts and electrodes, platinum resistance thermometers,
dentistry equipment, and jewelry. Being a heavy metal, it leads to
health problems upon exposure to its salts; but due to its corrosion
resistance, metallic platinum has not been linked to adverse health
effects. Compounds containing platinum, such as cisplatin,
oxaliplatin and carboplatin, are applied in chemotherapy against
certain types of cancer.
2.3 Other compounds
3.1 Early uses
3.2 European discovery
3.3 Means of malleability
5.3 As an investment
5.4 Other uses
5.5 Symbol of prestige in marketing
6 Health problems
7 See also
9 Further reading
10 External links
Pure platinum is a lustrous, ductile, and malleable, silver-white
Platinum is more ductile than gold, silver or copper, thus
being the most ductile of pure metals, but it is less malleable than
gold. The metal has excellent resistance to corrosion, is stable
at high temperatures and has stable electrical properties. Platinum
reacts with oxygen slowly at very high temperatures. It reacts
vigorously with fluorine at 500 °C (932 °F) to form
platinum tetrafluoride. It is also attacked by chlorine, bromine,
iodine, and sulfur.
Platinum is insoluble in hydrochloric and nitric
acid, but dissolves in hot aqua regia (nitric acid hydrochloride), to
form chloroplatinic acid, H2PtCl6.
Its physical characteristics and chemical stability make it useful for
industrial applications. Its resistance to wear and tarnish is
well suited to use in fine jewellery.
Platinum being dissolved in hot aqua regia
The most common oxidation states of platinum are +2 and +4. The +1 and
+3 oxidation states are less common, and are often stabilized by metal
bonding in bimetallic (or polymetallic) species. As is expected,
tetracoordinate platinum(II) compounds tend to adopt 16-electron
square planar geometries. Although elemental platinum is generally
unreactive, it dissolves in hot aqua regia to give aqueous
chloroplatinic acid (H2PtCl6):
Pt + 4 HNO3 + 6 HCl → H2PtCl6 + 4 NO2 + 4 H2O
As a soft acid, platinum has a great affinity for sulfur, such as on
dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO); numerous DMSO complexes have been reported
and care should be taken in the choice of reaction solvent.
Gerhard Ertl won the
Nobel Prize in Chemistry
Nobel Prize in Chemistry for determining
the detailed molecular mechanisms of the catalytic oxidation of carbon
monoxide over platinum (catalytic converter).
Isotopes of platinum
Platinum has six naturally occurring isotopes: 190Pt, 192Pt, 194Pt,
195Pt, 196Pt, and 198Pt. The most abundant of these is 195Pt,
comprising 33.83% of all platinum. It is the only stable isotope with
a non-zero spin; with a spin of 1/2, 195Pt satellite peaks are often
observed in 1H and 31P NMR spectroscopy (i.e., Pt-phosphine and
Pt-alkyl complexes). 190Pt is the least abundant at only 0.01%. Of the
naturally occurring isotopes, only 190Pt is unstable, though it decays
with a half-life of 6.5×1011 years, causing an activity of 15
Bq/kg of natural platinum. 198Pt can undergo alpha decay, but its
decay has never been observed (the half-life is known to be longer
than 3.2×1014 years); therefore, it is considered stable.
Platinum also has 31 synthetic isotopes ranging in atomic mass from
166 to 202, making the total number of known isotopes 37. The least
stable of these is 166Pt, with a half-life of 300 µs, whereas
the most stable is 193Pt with a half-life of 50 years. Most
platinum isotopes decay by some combination of beta decay and alpha
decay. 188Pt, 191Pt, and 193Pt decay primarily by electron capture.
190Pt and 198Pt are predicted to have energetically favorable double
beta decay paths.
A native platinum nugget, Kondyor mine, Khabarovsk Krai
Platinum is an extremely rare metal, occurring at a concentration
of only 0.005 ppm in Earth's crust. It is sometimes mistaken
Platinum is often found chemically uncombined as native
platinum and as alloy with the other platinum-group metals and iron
mostly. Most often the native platinum is found in secondary deposits
in alluvial deposits. The alluvial deposits used by pre-Columbian
people in the Chocó Department,
Colombia are still a source for
platinum-group metals. Another large alluvial deposit is in the Ural
Mountains, Russia, and it is still mined.
In nickel and copper deposits, platinum-group metals occur as sulfides
(e.g. (Pt,Pd)S), tellurides (e.g. PtBiTe), antimonides (PdSb), and
arsenides (e.g. PtAs2), and as end alloys with nickel or copper.
Platinum arsenide, sperrylite (PtAs2), is a major source of platinum
associated with nickel ores in the
Sudbury Basin deposit in Ontario,
Canada. At Platinum, Alaska, about 17,000 kg (550,000 ozt)
had been mined between 1927 and 1975. The mine ceased operations in
1990. The rare sulfide mineral cooperite, (Pt,Pd,Ni)S, contains
platinum along with palladium and nickel.
Cooperite occurs in the
Merensky Reef within the Bushveld complex, Gauteng, South Africa.
In 1865, chromites were identified in the Bushveld region of South
Africa, followed by the discovery of platinum in 1906. In 1924,
Hans Merensky discovered a large supply of platinum in
Bushveld Igneous Complex
Bushveld Igneous Complex in South Africa. The specific layer he
found, named the Merensky Reef, contains around 75% of the world's
known platinum. The large copper–nickel deposits near
Norilsk in Russia, and the Sudbury Basin, Canada, are the two other
large deposits. In the Sudbury Basin, the huge quantities of nickel
ore processed make up for the fact platinum is present as only 0.5 ppm
in the ore. Smaller reserves can be found in the United States,
for example in the
Absaroka Range in Montana. In 2010, South
Africa was the top producer of platinum, with an almost 77% share,
Russia at 13%; world production in 2010 was
192,000 kg (423,000 lb).
Large platinum deposits are present in the state of Tamil Nadu,
Platinum exists in higher abundances on the
Moon and in meteorites.
Correspondingly, platinum is found in slightly higher abundances at
sites of bolide impact on
Earth that are associated with resulting
post-impact volcanism, and can be mined economically; the Sudbury
Basin is one such example.
Hexachloroplatinic acid mentioned above is probably the most important
platinum compound, as it serves as the precursor for many other
platinum compounds. By itself, it has various applications in
photography, zinc etchings, indelible ink, plating, mirrors, porcelain
coloring, and as a catalyst.
Treatment of hexachloroplatinic acid with an ammonium salt, such as
ammonium chloride, gives ammonium hexachloroplatinate, which is
relatively insoluble in ammonium solutions. Heating this ammonium salt
in the presence of hydrogen reduces it to elemental platinum.
Potassium hexachloroplatinate is similarly insoluble, and
hexachloroplatinic acid has been used in the determination of
potassium ions by gravimetry.
When hexachloroplatinic acid is heated, it decomposes through
platinum(IV) chloride and platinum(II) chloride to elemental platinum,
although the reactions do not occur stepwise:
(H3O)2PtCl6·nH2O ⇌ PtCl4 + 2 HCl + (n + 2) H2O
PtCl4 ⇌ PtCl2 + Cl2
PtCl2 ⇌ Pt + Cl2
All three reactions are reversible. Platinum(II) and platinum(IV)
bromides are known as well.
Platinum hexafluoride is a strong oxidizer
capable of oxidizing oxygen.
Platinum(IV) oxide, PtO2, also known as Adams' catalyst, is a black
powder that is soluble in potassium hydroxide (KOH) solutions and
concentrated acids. PtO2 and the less common PtO both decompose
upon heating. Platinum(II,IV) oxide, Pt3O4, is formed in the
2 Pt2+ + Pt4+ + 4 O2− → Pt3O4
Unlike palladium acetate, platinum(II) acetate is not commercially
available. Where a base is desired, the halides have been used in
conjunction with sodium acetate. The use of platinum(II)
acetylacetonate has also been reported.
Several barium platinides have been synthesized in which platinum
exhibits negative oxidation states ranging from −1 to −2. These
include BaPt, Ba
2, and Ba
Caesium platinide, Cs
2Pt, a dark-red transparent crystalline compound has been shown to
contain Pt2− anions.
Platinum also exhibits negative oxidation
states at surfaces reduced electrochemically. The negative
oxidation states exhibited by platinum are unusual for metallic
elements, and they are attributed to the relativistic stabilization of
the 6s orbitals.
Zeise's salt, containing an ethylene ligand, was one of the first
organometallic compounds discovered.
Dichloro(cycloocta-1,5-diene)platinum(II) is a commercially available
olefin complex, which contains easily displaceable cod ligands ("cod"
being an abbreviation of 1,5-cyclooctadiene). The cod complex and the
halides are convenient starting points to platinum chemistry.
Cisplatin, or cis-diamminedichloroplatinum(II) is the first of a
series of square planar platinum(II)-containing chemotherapy
drugs.. Others include carboplatin and oxaliplatin. These
compounds are capable of crosslinking DNA, and kill cells by similar
pathways to alkylating chemotherapeutic agents. (Side effects of
cisplatin include nausea and vomiting, hair loss, tinnitus, hearing
loss, and nephrotoxicity.)
The hexachloroplatinate ion
The anion of Zeise's salt
Archaeologists have discovered traces of platinum in the gold used in
ancient Egyptian burials as early as 1200 BC. However, the extent of
early Egyptians' knowledge of the metal is unclear. It is quite
possible they did not recognize there was platinum in their gold.
The metal was used by pre-Columbian Americans near modern-day
Esmeraldas, Ecuador to produce artifacts of a white gold-platinum
alloy. They employed a relatively sophisticated system of powder
metallurgy. The platinum used in such objects was not the pure
element, but rather a naturally occurring mixture of the platinum
group metals, with small amounts of palladium, rhodium, and
The first European reference to platinum appears in 1557 in the
writings of the Italian humanist
Julius Caesar Scaliger
Julius Caesar Scaliger as a
description of an unknown noble metal found between Darién and
Mexico, "which no fire nor any Spanish artifice has yet been able to
liquefy". From their first encounters with platinum, the Spanish
generally saw the metal as a kind of impurity in gold, and it was
treated as such. It was often simply thrown away, and there was an
official decree forbidding the adulteration of gold with platinum
This alchemical symbol for platinum was made by joining the symbols of
silver (moon) and gold (sun).
Antonio de Ulloa
Antonio de Ulloa is credited in European history with the discovery of
Antonio de Ulloa
Antonio de Ulloa and Don Jorge Juan y Santacilia saw Native
Americans mining platinum while the Spaniards were travelling through
Colombia and Peru for eight years. Ulloa and Juan found mines with the
whitish metal nuggets and took them home to Spain. Antonio de Ulloa
returned to Spain and established the first mineralogy lab in Spain
and was the first to systematically study platinum, which was in 1748.
His historical account of the expedition included a description of
platinum as being neither separable nor calcinable. Ulloa also
anticipated the discovery of platinum mines. After publishing the
report in 1748, Ulloa did not continue to investigate the new metal.
In 1758, he was sent to superintend mercury mining operations in
In 1741, Charles Wood, a British metallurgist, found various
samples of Colombian platinum in Jamaica, which he sent to William
Brownrigg for further investigation.
In 1750, after studying the platinum sent to him by Wood, Brownrigg
presented a detailed account of the metal to the Royal Society,
stating that he had seen no mention of it in any previous accounts of
known minerals. Brownrigg also made note of platinum's extremely
high melting point and refractoriness toward borax.[clarification
needed] Other chemists across Europe soon began studying platinum,
including Andreas Sigismund Marggraf, Torbern Bergman, Jöns Jakob
Berzelius, William Lewis, and Pierre Macquer. In 1752, Henrik Scheffer
published a detailed scientific description of the metal, which he
referred to as "white gold", including an account of how he succeeded
in fusing platinum ore with the aid of arsenic. Scheffer described
platinum as being less pliable than gold, but with similar resistance
Means of malleability
Carl von Sickingen researched platinum extensively in 1772. He
succeeded in making malleable platinum by alloying it with gold,
dissolving the alloy in hot aqua regia, precipitating the platinum
with ammonium chloride, igniting the ammonium chloroplatinate, and
hammering the resulting finely divided platinum to make it cohere.
Franz Karl Achard
Franz Karl Achard made the first platinum crucible in 1784. He worked
with the platinum by fusing it with arsenic, then later volatilizing
Because the other platinum-family members were not discovered yet
(platinum was the first in the list), Scheffer and Sickingen made the
false assumption that due to its hardness—which is slightly more
than for pure iron—platinum would be a relatively non-pliable
material, even brittle at times, when in fact its ductility and
malleability are close to that of gold. Their assumptions could not be
avoided because the platinum they experimented with was highly
contaminated with minute amounts of platinum-family elements such as
osmium and iridium, amongst others, which embrittled the platinum
alloy. Alloying this impure platinum residue called "plyoxen" with
gold was the only solution at the time to obtain a pliable compound,
but nowadays, very pure platinum is available and extremely long wires
can be drawn from pure platinum, very easily, due to its crystalline
structure, which is similar to that of many soft metals.
Charles III of Spain
Charles III of Spain provided a library and laboratory to
Pierre-François Chabaneau to aid in his research of platinum.
Chabaneau succeeded in removing various impurities from the ore,
including gold, mercury, lead, copper, and iron. This led him to
believe he was working with a single metal, but in truth the ore still
contained the yet-undiscovered platinum-group metals. This led to
inconsistent results in his experiments. At times, the platinum seemed
malleable, but when it was alloyed with iridium, it would be much more
brittle. Sometimes the metal was entirely incombustible, but when
alloyed with osmium, it would volatilize. After several months,
Chabaneau succeeded in producing 23 kilograms of pure, malleable
platinum by hammering and compressing the sponge form while white-hot.
Chabeneau realized the infusibility of platinum would lend value to
objects made of it, and so started a business with Joaquín Cabezas
producing platinum ingots and utensils. This started what is known as
the "platinum age" in Spain.
An aerial photograph of a platinum mine in South Africa. South Africa
produces 80% of the world production and has most of the world's known
Time trend of platinum production
Platinum, along with the rest of the platinum-group metals, is
obtained commercially as a by-product from nickel and copper mining
and processing. During electrorefining of copper, noble metals such as
silver, gold and the platinum-group metals as well as selenium and
tellurium settle to the bottom of the cell as "anode mud", which forms
the starting point for the extraction of the platinum-group
If pure platinum is found in placer deposits or other ores, it is
isolated from them by various methods of subtracting impurities.
Because platinum is significantly denser than many of its impurities,
the lighter impurities can be removed by simply floating them away in
Platinum is paramagnetic, whereas nickel and iron are both
ferromagnetic. These two impurities are thus removed by running an
electromagnet over the mixture. Because platinum has a higher melting
point than most other substances, many impurities can be burned or
melted away without melting the platinum. Finally, platinum is
resistant to hydrochloric and sulfuric acids, whereas other substances
are readily attacked by them. Metal impurities can be removed by
stirring the mixture in either of the two acids and recovering the
One suitable method for purification for the raw platinum, which
contains platinum, gold, and the other platinum-group metals, is to
process it with aqua regia, in which palladium, gold and platinum are
dissolved, whereas osmium, iridium, ruthenium and rhodium stay
unreacted. The gold is precipitated by the addition of iron(II)
chloride and after filtering off the gold, the platinum is
precipitated as ammonium chloroplatinate by the addition of ammonium
chloride. Ammonium chloroplatinate can be converted to platinum by
heating. Unprecipitated hexachloroplatinate(IV) may be reduced
with elemental zinc, and a similar method is suitable for small scale
recovery of platinum from laboratory residues. Mining and refining
platinum has environmental impacts.
Cutaway view of a metal-core catalytic converter
Of the 218 tonnes of platinum sold in 2014, 98 tonnes were
used for vehicle emissions control devices (45%), 74.7 tonnes for
jewelry (34%), 20.0 tonnes for chemical production and petroleum
refining (9.2%), and 5.85 tonnes for electrical applications such
as hard disk drives (2.7%). The remaining 28.9 tonnes went to
various other minor applications, such as medicine and biomedicine,
glassmaking equipment, investment, electrodes, anticancer drugs,
oxygen sensors, spark plugs and turbine engines.
The most common use of platinum is as a catalyst in chemical
reactions, often as platinum black. It has been employed as a catalyst
since the early 19th century, when platinum powder was used to
catalyze the ignition of hydrogen. Its most important application is
in automobiles as a catalytic converter, which allows the complete
combustion of low concentrations of unburned hydrocarbons from the
exhaust into carbon dioxide and water vapor.
Platinum is also used in
the petroleum industry as a catalyst in a number of separate
processes, but especially in catalytic reforming of straight-run
naphthas into higher-octane gasoline that becomes rich in aromatic
compounds. PtO2, also known as Adams' catalyst, is used as a
hydrogenation catalyst, specifically for vegetable oils. Platinum
also strongly catalyzes the decomposition of hydrogen peroxide into
water and oxygen and it is used in fuel cells as a catalyst
for the reduction of oxygen.
Prototype International Meter bar
From 1889 to 1960, the meter was defined as the length of a
platinum-iridium (90:10) alloy bar, known as the International
Prototype Meter bar. The previous bar was made of platinum in 1799.
International Prototype Kilogram
International Prototype Kilogram remains defined by a cylinder of
the same platinum-iridium alloy made in 1879.
The standard hydrogen electrode also uses a platinized platinum
electrode due to its corrosion resistance, and other attributes.
As an investment
1,000 cubic centimeters of 99.9% pure platinum, worth about US$696,000
at 29 Jun 2016 prices
Platinum as an investment
Platinum as an investment and
Platinum is a precious metal commodity; its bullion has the ISO
currency code of XPT. Coins, bars, and ingots are traded or collected.
Platinum finds use in jewellery, usually as a 90–95% alloy, due to
its inertness. It is used for this purpose for its prestige and
inherent bullion value.
Jewellery trade publications advise jewellers
to present minute surface scratches (which they term patina) as a
desirable feature in attempt to enhance value of platinum
In watchmaking, Vacheron Constantin, Patek Philippe, Rolex, Breitling,
and other companies use platinum for producing their limited edition
watch series. Watchmakers appreciate the unique properties of
platinum, as it neither tarnishes nor wears out (the latter quality
relative to gold).
Average price of platinum from 1992 to 2012 in US$ per troy ounce
The price of platinum, like other industrial commodities, is more
volatile than that of gold. In 2008, the price of platinum dropped
from $2,252 to $774 per oz, a loss of nearly 2/3 of its value. By
contrast, the price of gold dropped from ~$1,000 to ~$700/oz during
the same time frame, a loss of only 1/3 of its value.
During periods of sustained economic stability and growth, the price
of platinum tends to be as much as twice the price of gold, whereas
during periods of economic uncertainty, the price of platinum
tends to decrease due to reduced industrial demand, falling below the
price of gold.
Gold prices are more stable in slow economic times, as
gold is considered a safe haven. Although gold is used in industrial
applications, its demand is not so driven by industrial uses. In the
18th century, platinum's rarity made King
Louis XV of France
Louis XV of France declare
it the only metal fit for a king.
In the laboratory, platinum wire is used for electrodes; platinum pans
and supports are used in thermogravimetric analysis because of the
stringent requirements of chemical inertness upon heating to high
temperatures (~1000 °C).
Platinum is used as an alloying agent
for various metal products, including fine wires, noncorrosive
laboratory containers, medical instruments, dental prostheses,
electrical contacts, and thermocouples. Platinum-cobalt, an alloy of
roughly three parts platinum and one part cobalt, is used to make
relatively strong permanent magnets. Platinum-based anodes are
used in ships, pipelines, and steel piers.
Symbol of prestige in marketing
Platinum album and
An assortment of native platinum nuggets
Platinum's rarity as a metal has caused advertisers to associate it
with exclusivity and wealth. "Platinum" debit and credit cards have
greater privileges than "gold" cards. "
Platinum awards" are the
second highest possible, ranking above "gold", "silver" and "bronze",
but below diamond. For example, in the United States, a musical album
that has sold more than 1 million copies will be credited as
"platinum", whereas an album that has sold more than 10 million
copies will be certified as "diamond". Some products, such as
blenders and vehicles, with a silvery-white color are identified as
Platinum is considered a precious metal, although its use
is not as common as the use of gold or silver. The frame of the Crown
of Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, manufactured for her coronation
as Consort of King George VI, is made of platinum. It was the first
British crown to be made of this particular metal.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,
short-term exposure to platinum salts may cause irritation of the
eyes, nose, and throat, and long-term exposure may cause both
respiratory and skin allergies. The current OSHA standard is
2 micrograms per cubic meter of air averaged over an 8-hour work
shift. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
has set a recommended exposure limit (REL) for platinum as
1 mg/m3 over an 8-hour workday.
Platinum-based antineoplastic agents are used in chemotherapy, and
show good activity against some tumors.
As platinum is a catalyst in the manufacture of the silicone rubber
and gel components of several types of medical implants (breast
implants, joint replacement prosthetics, artificial lumbar discs,
vascular access ports, etc.), the possibility that platinum could
enter the body and cause adverse effects has merited study. The Food
and Drug Administration and other institutions have reviewed the issue
and found no evidence to suggest toxicity in vivo.
List of countries by platinum production
Mixed metal oxide electrode
Platinum in Africa
2000s commodities boom
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