platinum


platinum

Metallic chemical element, one of the transition elements, chemical symbol Pt, atomic number 78. A very heavy, silvery white precious metal, it is soft and ductile, with a high melting point (3,216 °F [1,769 °C]) and good resistance to corrosion and chemical attack. Small amounts of iridium are commonly added for a harder, stronger alloy that retains platinum's advantages. Platinum is found usually as alloys of 80–90% purity in placer deposits or more rarely combined with arsenic or sulfur. It is indispensable in high-temperature laboratory work for electrodes, dishes, and electrical contacts that resist chemical attack even when very hot. Platinum is used in dental alloys and surgical pins; alloys typically containing 90–95% platinum are used in expensive jewelry. The international primary standard for the kilogram is made of 90% platinum, 10% iridium. Platinum has valence 2 or 4 in its compounds, which include many coordination complexes. It and some compounds are useful catalysts, particularly for hydrogenation and in catalytic converters for reducing automobile emissions.

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