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What is Platinum

Platinum (pronunciation PLAT-en-em [2]), represented by the chemical symbol or formula Pt [1], is a soft, heavy, malleable, ductile and extremely rare element belonging to the family of transition metals [3, 11]. Naturally occurring Pt is a mixture of 6 isotopes with mass numbers 190, 192, 194-196 and 198 [1, 3]. Besides that, it has 35 synthetic isotopes with known half-lives [3]. It is chemically inert and at any temperature, doesn’t oxidize in air. Though it’s resistant to acids it dissolves readily in aqua regia. It reacts with bases and halogens [4].

Platinum Symbol

Where Is It Found

Platinum is found in the uncombined state in alluvial deposits. Commercial platinum is mainly sourced from the mineral cooperite (platinum sulfide) in South Africa. Some platinum is also obtained as a by-product of nickel and copper refining [1].

Platinum Jewellery


Origin of Its Name: Its name is derived from the Spanish “platina” meaning little silver [1].

Who Discovered Platinum: Unknown [1].

When Was It Discovered: It was known to native South Americans before Columbus and was taken to Europe around 1750 [1].

Platinum Image

How Was It Discovered

In 1557, Julius Scaliger, an Italian scholar, wrote of a metal from Spanish central America that could not be melted. In 1735, Spanish scientist Antonio Ulloa found this curious metal and was returning to Europe with it but his ship was captured and brought to London by the Royal Navy. The members of the Royal Society were interested in the new metal and that is how platinum came to be reported and discussed throughout Europe [1].

Platinum Metal

Platinum Identification

Atomic Number  78 [1]
CAS Number  7440-06-4 [1]
Position in the periodic table Group Period Block
  10 [1] 6 [1] d [1]

Where is Platinum Found on the Periodic Table

Properties and Characteristics of Platinum

General Properties

Atomic mass 195.084  atomic mass units [1]
Atomic weight 195.084 [1]
Molar mass/molecular weight 195.084 g/mol [5]

Physical Properties

Color/appearance Silvery-white [3]
Melting point/freezing point 1768.2°C, 3214.8°F [1]
Boiling point 3825°C, 6917°F [1]
Density 21.5 g cm-3 [1]
State of matter at room temperature (normal phase) Solid [1]
Electrical Conductivity 9.4X106 S/m [6]
Specific heat 0.13 kJ/kg K [7]
Resistivity 10.6X10-8 ohm-m [8]
Temperature coefficient 0.003927 [8]
Conductivity 0.943X107/ohm-m [8]
Hardness (Mohs scale) 3.5 [9]
Tensile strength 120 MPa [10]

Chemical Properties

Oxidation state/Oxidation number (−3), (−2), (−1), (+1), +2, (+3), +4, +5, +6 [1]

Magnetic Properties

Magnetic ordering Paramagnetic [12]

Atomic Data of Platinum (Element 78)

Valence electrons 6 [13]
Quantum numbers
– n 5 [14]
– ℓ 2 [14]
– m 0 [14]
– m s [14]
Electron configuration (noble gas configuration) [Xe] 4f145d96s1 [1]
Crystal structure Cubic close-packed [15]
Atomic structure
– Number of Electrons 78 [3]
– Number of Neutrons 117 [3]
– Number of Protons 78 [3]
Energy levels [3]
– First Energy Level 2
– Second Energy Level 8
– Third Energy Level 18
– Fourth Energy Level 32
– Fifth Energy Level 17
– Sixth Energy Level 1
Radius of atom
Atomic Radius 2.13 Å [1]
– Covalent Radius 1.30 Å [1]
Electronegativity (Pauling scale) 2.2 [1]
Ionization energy

(kJmol-1) [1]

1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th
864.393 1791.057
Platinum Electron Configuration (Bohr Model)

Platinum Uses

  1. Its main use is in the catalytic converters of cars, buses and trucks. It can effectively convert the vehicle engine emissions into less harmful waste products [1].
  2. It is extensively used in jewelry [1].
  3. In the chemical industry, it is used as catalyst in the production of silicone, benzene and nitric acid. Its catalytic properties also help in improving the efficiency of fuel cells [1].
  4. It has applications in the electronic industry in the manufacture of thermocouples and computer hard disks [1].
  5. To make turbine blades, optical fibers, pacemakers, spark plugs, dental fillings, LCDs, etc [1].
  6. Platinum compounds used as chemotherapy drugs play an important role in treating cancer [1].

Platinum Rings

Is It Dangerous

The metal is non-toxic [1].

Interesting Facts

  • It is a very corrosion resistant metal like gold, though it is much costlier [1, 2].


Platinum (Pt Element) Cost

The pure metal is priced at $13,000 for every 100 gram and in bulk, the same quantity costs $5,000 [3].



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