Iridium is a chemical element with the symbol Ir and atomic number 77. It is a very dense, hard, brittle, silvery-white transition metal and is sometimes used as a contact material in reed switches due to its resistance to arc erosion. Reed Switches contacts coated with Iridium are durable and more expensive.
Iridium is a chemical element with the symbol Ir and atomic number 77. A very hard, brittle, silvery-white transition metal of the platinum group, it is considered the second-densest naturally occurring metal (after osmium) with a density of 22.56 g/cm3 (0.815 lb/cu in) as defined by experimental X-ray crystallography. It is the most corrosion-resistant metal, even at temperatures as high as 2,000 °C (3,630 °F). Although only certain molten salts and halogens are corrosive to solid iridium, finely divided iridium dust is much more reactive and can be flammable.
|Standard atomic weight Ar°(Ir)|
|Iridium in the periodic table|
|Atomic number (Z)||77|
|Electron configuration||[Xe] 4f14 5d7 6s2|
|Electrons per shell||2, 8, 18, 32, 15, 2|
|Phase at STP||solid|
|Melting point||2719 K (2446 °C, 4435 °F)|
|Boiling point||4403 K (4130 °C, 7466 °F)|
|Density (near r.t.)||22.56 g/cm3|
|when liquid (at m.p.)||19 g/cm3|
|Heat of fusion||41.12 kJ/mol|
|Heat of vaporization||564 kJ/mol|
|Molar heat capacity||25.10 J/(mol·K)|
|Oxidation states||−3, −1, 0, +1, +2, +3, +4, +5, +6, +7, +8, +9|
|Electronegativity||Pauling scale: 2.20|
|Atomic radius||empirical: 136 pm|
|Covalent radius||141±6 pm|
|Spectral lines of iridium|
|Crystal structure||face-centered cubic (fcc)|
|Speed of sound thin rod||4825 m/s (at 20 °C)|
|Thermal expansion||6.4 µm/(m⋅K)|
|Thermal conductivity||147 W/(m⋅K)|
|Electrical resistivity||47.1 nΩ⋅m (at 20 °C)|
|Molar magnetic susceptibility||+25.6 × 10−6 cm3/mol (298 K)|
|Young's modulus||528 GPa|
|Shear modulus||210 GPa|
|Bulk modulus||320 GPa|
|Vickers hardness||1760–2200 MPa|
|Brinell hardness||1670 MPa|
|Discovery and first isolation||Smithson Tennant (1803)|
|Main isotopes of iridium|
Iridium was discovered in 1803 among insoluble impurities in natural platinum. Smithson Tennant, the primary discoverer, named it after the Greek goddess Iris, personification of the rainbow, because of the striking and diverse colors of its salts. Iridium is one of the rarest elements in Earth's crust, with annual production and consumption of only 3 tonnes (6.6 thousand pounds). 191Ir and 193Ir are the only two naturally occurring isotopes of iridium, as well as the only stable isotopes; the latter is the more abundant.
The most important iridium compounds in use are the salts and acids it forms with chlorine, though iridium also forms a number of organometallic compounds used in industrial catalysis, and in research. Iridium metal is employed when high corrosion resistance at high temperatures is needed, as in high-performance spark plugs, crucibles for recrystallization of semiconductors at high temperatures, and electrodes for the production of chlorine in the chloralkali process. Iridium radioisotopes are used in some radioisotope thermoelectric generators.
Iridium is found in meteorites in much higher abundance than in the Earth's crust. For this reason, the unusually high abundance of iridium in the clay layer at the Cretaceous–Paleogene boundary gave rise to the Alvarez hypothesis that the impact of a massive extraterrestrial object caused the extinction of dinosaurs and many other species 66 million years ago, now known to be produced by the impact that formed the Chicxulub crater. Similarly, an iridium anomaly in core samples from the Pacific Ocean suggested the Eltanin impact of about 2.5 million years ago.
It is thought that the total amount of iridium in the planet Earth is much higher than that observed in crustal rocks, but as with other platinum-group metals, the high density and tendency of iridium to bond with iron caused most iridium to descend below the crust when the planet was young and still molten.