Steve Marsden’s

Groups 8-10 (VIIIB): Fe, Ru, Os, Hs, Co, Rh, Ir, Mt, Ni, Pd, Pt, Ds

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    This page contains brief profiles and pictures of each of the Groups 8-10 metals (VIIIB). More information can be found via the WWW links following each element. However, as these links are to other servers on the Internet you will need to use the BACK button on your browser to return to this page. Credits for the photos and principal links can be found at the end of this document.
  • Fe

    Iron, which takes its English name from the old Anglo-Saxon and its symbol from the Latin, ferrum, was identified and used in prehistoric times. It is a very common element, fourth most abundant in the earth's crust. In addition, two of the ten most common compounds in the earth's crust are the two common oxides of iron, FeO and Fe2O3.

    In its pure form, iron is a silvery-white metal, distinguished by its ability to take and retain a magnetic field, and also dissolve small amounts of carbon when molten (thus yielding steel). Commercial refining of iron is based on the heating of Fe2O3 or Fe3O4 (magnetite) with a mixture of other substances in the high temperature environment of the blast furnace. The oxides are reduced to pure iron. In addition to hardening iron by adding small amounts of carbon and also some other metals to the molten iron, iron castings or forgings can be heat-treated to take advantage of the various physical properties of the different solid phases of iron.

    Pure iron reacts readily with oxygen and moisture in the environment and corrodes destructively. Even alloys such as steel need protection by painting or some other coating to prevent structural failure over time.

    More background information on Fe More data on Fe
  • Ru

    Element 44 (named from the Latin, ruthenia, for Russia) was originally discovered in 1807 by the Polish chemist Sniadecki, but the claim from a relative unknown was not accepted by a Paris commission and he withdrew it. It was not until 1828 that Gottfried Osann claimed to have found three new elements in his platinum samples that interest in the metal increased. Although the he could not substantiate the claim, he did not withdraw it. In 1844 Karl Klaus showed that two of Osann's metals were not new elements at all, but the third he was able to isolate and characterize.

    Ruthenium is a rare metal (less than 0.01 parts per million in the earth's crust). It is generally described as gray-white, hard and brittle. At room temperature it is resistant to virtually all acids. It's high melting point and brittle nature make casting difficult. Its chief commercial use is as a hardening agent in platinum jewelry.

    Recently interest has grown in some compounds of ruthenium which possess the ability to convert visible light into a suitable energy source for splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen (for fuel). Work in this field is ongoing.

    More background information on Ru More data on Ru
  • Os

    Discovered in 1803 by Smithson Tennant (most famous for his determination that diamond is just a form of carbon), osmium is a very dense, blue-white hard metal. Its name is taken from the Greek, osme, for "odor". The oxides of osmium emit highly toxic gases and form readily when the metal is exposed to air. Thus there are few commercial applications for osmium except as a minor alloying agent where it reduces frictional wear ("osmiroid" ball point pen tips, for example).

    Most osmium is recovered as a by-product of the refining of platinum and nickel ores.

    More background information on Os More data on Os
  • Hs
    no images of Hassium available

    Like its immediate predecessors, element 108 (Hs), is of purely theoretical interest and has an extremely short half-life, decaying by spontaneous fission. It is so unstable, in fact, that it was not discovered until after element 109 had been positively confirmed.

    The search for elements beyond uranium has occupied the attention of various groups of scientists around the world since the late 1940's. The principals involved hail from the laboratories at Berkeley, California, what was previously the Soviet Joint Institute for Nuclear Research at Dubna, and the Heavy-Ion Research Laboratory in Darmstadt, Germany.

    Originally a committee of the IUPAC recommended that element 108 be named Hahnium, after a German scientist, Otto Hahn. That name met with some opposition and the name approved in August 1997 is Hassium, named for the German state of Hesse.

    More background information on Hs More data on Hs
  • Co

    Compounds of cobalt (name from the German Kobold or "goblin") were known in ancient times but the metal itself was isolated in 1739 by Georg Brandt.

    Cobalt is closely associated with cobalt glass and its characteristic deep blue color. But the metal is silvery-white and brittle, with a slight bluish color when polished. Cobalt is typically found with iron and nickel deposits. Its chemistry is similar to that of these elements but it has notable magnetic properties and one-fourth of the worlds production of cobalt is used to make powerful "alnico" magnets (an alloy of Al, Ni, and Co). Although the metal can be obtained from cobaltite and erythrite ores (the arsenide and arsenate, respectively) it is often less expensive to recover it from the waste material obtained from refining other metal ores.

    Cobalt(II) chloride is often used in humidity indicators because in dry form it is blue and when hydrated it is pink. The radioactive isotope of cobalt, Co-60, is used in portable "x-ray" devices. It actually produces gamma rays which can be used to detect internal flaws in metal in much the same way as x-rays by producing a shadowy image on film. Co-60 is also used in cancer treatment.

    More background information on Co More data on Co
  • Rh

    World production of rhodium (from the Greek rhodon, "rose") is about 10 tons. While the metal itself has few applications, it is an important alloying agent used as a hardener for platinum and palladium.

    As one of the so-called "platinum" metals, rhodium is often found is association with these other elements. It shares the properties of these metals: high corrosion resistance, hardness and ductility. It is the rarest of the group, only occurring to the extent of about 1 part per 200 million in the earth's crust.

    Rhodium was discovered in 1803 by William Hyde Wollaston who named it for the rose-red color of its salts.

    More background information on Rh More data on Rh
  • Ir

    Iridium has the reputation of being the most corrosion resistant of all metals. It was discovered in 1803 by Smithson Tennant in 1803 and named for the Latin iris, or "rainbow" because it forms a large number of very colorful compounds. The pure metal is very difficult to machine into useful shapes because of its hardness and its principal use is as a hardening agent for platinum. It will withstand attack by hot aqua regia (a mixture of concentrated hydrochloric and nitric acids---which dissolves even gold) and can be used routinely at temperatures up to 2000oC.

    More background information on Ir More data on Ir
  • Mt
    no images of Meitnerium available

    Element 109 was first synthesized by researchers at Darmstadt, (West) Germany in August of 1983. For 10 days they hurled a beam of iron-58 ions into a bismuth-209 target. They detected the formation of one nucleus of Mt-267 which rapidly "boiled off" a neutron, reverting to Mt-266. This decayed within milliseconds to give (element 107)-262, etc. A committee of the IUPAC suggested the name Meitnerium (Mt) after the German physicist Lise Meitner. Final approval of the name and symbol was given in August 1997.

    More background information on Mt More data on Mt
  • Ni

    Known since the early 1700's from a reddish-brown rock with splotches of green in it, nickel takes its name from the German kupfernickel, which can be variously translated as the name of a troll or "false copper". It is often found with copper and other similar metals. Before it was isolated in 1751 by Baron Axel Fredrik Cronstedt, it--like cobalt--was known for its ability to color glass (in this case, green).

    The U.S. five-cent piece is 25% nickel. The element is also an important alloying agent for stainless steels and in very powerful magnets. Nickel is found in the earth's crust to the extent of about 70 parts per million, about the same as copper and zinc. There is a good chance that a high proportion of the core of the earth is molten nickel.

    Unlike its near neighbor copper on the periodic table, nickel is only a fair electrical conductor. But like its other neighbor, cobalt, it is very useful in making strong permanent magnets. It is also highly resistant to attack by alkalis and is used to store and transport concentrated sodium and potassium hydroxide. Nickel reacts with most acids to produce hydrogen gas and the green Ni2+ ion.

    More background information on Ni More data on Ni
  • Pd

    Discovered in 1803 by William Wollaston and named after the recently discovered asteroid Pallas, palladium is a silvery-white, soft metal similar to platinum. It is a rare metal (only about 1 part per million in the earth) but occurs commonly along with copper, silver and gold.

    Palladium is used as an alloying agent with gold in jewelry ("white gold") and in some dental applications in place of silver or gold. Unlike the other so-called platinum metals, palladium is more susceptible to attack by acids, even hydrochloric acid.

    Palladium has the curious ability to absorb large quantities of hydrogen gas (up to 900 times its own volume) and this has generated some interest in its alloys as a storage system for hydrogen as a portable fuel for automobiles. It was also prominent in the "cold fusion" controversy some years ago when it was said (apparently falsely) that when it was made to absorb heavy hydrogen (deuterium), the atoms would undergo fusion and release more energy than was put into the process.

    More background information on Pd More data on Pd
  • Pt

    Independently discovered in 1735 by Antonio de Ulloa and in 1741 by Charles Wood, platinum is named from the Spanish platina or "silver". The metal is classified as precious owing to its scarcity and commercial demand. It is very heavy and silvery white and is used in laboratory instruments, jewelry, medical and dental items, and electrical contacts. Because it is immune to air oxidation the metal is often found in native form in nature. It is sometimes found in a rare, naturally occurring alloy, platiniridium.

    Naturally occurring platinum is a mixture of six non-radioactive isotopes.

    More background information on Pt More data on Pt
  • Ds
    no images of Darmstadtium available

    As early as 1991, scientists at Berkeley reported evidence of element 110, but definitive work seems to have emerged in November of 1994 from the GSI laboratory in Darmstadt, Germany. To produce a single atom of 110, the researchers used the UNILAC accelerator to bombard a target of lead over many days with more than a billion nickel atoms. Detectors searched each collision for element 110's distinctive (predicted) decay sequence.

    A team at Berkeley duplicated the synthesis, fusing nickel-64 and lead-208 nuclei in June 2003.

    The IUPAC approved the name "darmstadtium" (after the laboratory at which the discovery was made) in August of 2003.

    More background information on Ds More data on Ds

Sources: Photos of the elements were taken from the LIFE Science Library book Matter. Background links go to the Periodic Table created at Los Alamos National Laboratories by Robert Husted. Data links go to the primary site of Mark Winter's WebElements, version 2.0, at the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom.