AskDefine | Define iridium

Dictionary Definition

iridium n : a heavy brittle metallic element of the platinum group; used in alloys; occurs in natural alloys with platinum or osmium [syn: Ir, atomic number 77]

User Contributed Dictionary

see Iridium



iris, rainbow (because of the bright colour of many of iridium's salts)


  1. A metallic chemical element (symbol Ir) with an atomic number of 77.


chemical element

External links



  1. iridium

Extensive Definition

Iridium () is a chemical element that has the symbol Ir and atomic number 77. A dense, very hard, brittle, silvery-white transition metal of the platinum family, iridium is used in high-strength alloys that can withstand high temperatures and occurs in natural alloys with platinum or osmium. Iridium is notable for being the most corrosion-resistant element known and for its significance in the determination of the probable cause of the extinction, by an asteroid impact, of the dinosaurs. It is used in high-temperature apparatuses, electrical contacts, and as a hardening agent for platinum.


A platinum group metal, iridium is white, resembling platinum, but with a slight yellowish cast. Due to its extreme hardness and brittleness, iridium is difficult to machine, form, or work. It is the most corrosion-resistant metal known: iridium cannot be attacked by any acids or by aqua regia, but it can be attacked by molten salts, such as NaCl and NaCN.
The measured density of iridium is only slightly lower than that of osmium, which is often listed as the densest element known. However, calculations of density from the space lattice may produce more reliable data for these elements than actual measurements and give a density of 22,650 kg/m³ for iridium versus 22,610 kg/m³ for osmium. Definitive selection between the two is therefore not possible at this time.


The principal use of iridium is as a hardening agent in platinum alloys. Other uses: At one time iridium, as an alloy with platinum, was used in bushing the vents of heavy ordnance, and in a finely powdered condition (iridium black), for painting porcelain black.
Iridium was used to tip some early-twentieth-century fountain pen nibs. The tip material in modern fountain pens is still conventionally called "iridium," although there is seldom any iridium in it. An exception to this are the JML Fountain pens, sold in the UK.


Iridium was discovered in 1803 by British scientist Smithson Tennant in London, England along with osmium in the dark-coloured residue of dissolving crude platinum in aqua regia (a mixture of hydrochloric and nitric acid). The element was named after the Greek word for rainbow (ίρις, iris; iridium means "of rainbows") because many of its salts are strongly coloured.
An alloy of 90% platinum and 10% iridium was used in 1889 to construct the standard metre bar and kilogramme mass, kept by the International Bureau of Weights and Measures near Paris. The metre bar was replaced as the definition of the fundamental unit of length in 1960 (see krypton), but the kilogram prototype is still the international standard of mass.

K-T boundary

The K–T boundary of 65 million years ago, marking the temporal border between the Cretaceous and Tertiary periods of geological time, was identified by a thin stratum of iridium-rich clay. A team led by Luis Alvarez (1980) proposed an extraterrestrial origin for this iridium, attributing it to an asteroid or comet impact. Their theory is now widely accepted to explain the demise of the dinosaurs. A large buried impact crater structure with an estimated age of about 65 million years was later identified near what is now Yucatán Peninsula. Dewey M. McLean and others argue that the iridium may have been of volcanic origin instead. The Earth's core is rich in iridium, and Piton de la Fournaise on Réunion, for example, is still releasing iridium today.


Iridium is found uncombined in nature with platinum and other platinum group metals in alluvial deposits. Naturally occurring iridium alloys include osmiridium and iridiosmium, both of which are mixtures of iridium and osmium. It is recovered commercially as a by-product from nickel mining and processing.
Iridium is one of the rarest non-radioactive, non-noble gas elements in the Earth's crust, but it is relatively common in meteorites. Iridium and osmium are the densest elements, and both are believed to have dropped below the Earth's crust toward the core when the Earth was young and molten. The concentration of iridium in meteorites matches the concentration of iridium in the Earth as a whole.


There are two natural isotopes of iridium, and many radioisotopes, the most stable radioisotope being Ir-192 with a half-life of 73.83 days. Ir-192 beta decays into platinum-192, while most of the other radioisotopes decay into osmium.



A new method for the quantitative extraction and determination of trace amounts of iridium from hydrochloric acid media has been established based on the formation of an ion-association complex of iridium hexachloro anion IrCl6(2-) with dicyclohexyl-18-crown-6 (DC18C6) oxonium cation in chloroform, then determination by inductively coupled plasma atomic emission spectrometry (ICP-AES). The effect of various factors (solvent, acid concentration, crown ether, reagent concentration, shaking time, composition of the extracted species, foreign ions, etc.) on the extraction and back-extraction of iridium has been investigated. The procedure was used to determine traces of iridium in palladium chloride and rhodium chloride.


Iridium metal is mostly non-toxic due to its relative unreactivity.
iridium in Arabic: إريديوم
iridium in Bengali: ইরিডিয়াম
iridium in Belarusian: Ірыдый
iridium in Bosnian: Iridijum
iridium in Catalan: Iridi
iridium in Czech: Iridium
iridium in Corsican: Iridiu
iridium in Danish: Iridium
iridium in German: Iridium
iridium in Estonian: Iriidium
iridium in Modern Greek (1453-): Ιρίδιο
iridium in Spanish: Iridio
iridium in Esperanto: Iridio
iridium in Basque: Iridio
iridium in Persian: ایریدیوم
iridium in French: Iridium
iridium in Friulian: Iridi
iridium in Manx: Iriddjum
iridium in Galician: Iridio
iridium in Korean: 이리듐
iridium in Armenian: Իրիդիում
iridium in Croatian: Iridij
iridium in Ido: Iridio
iridium in Indonesian: Iridium
iridium in Interlingua (International Auxiliary Language Association): Iridium
iridium in Icelandic: Iridín
iridium in Italian: Iridio
iridium in Hebrew: אירידיום
iridium in Javanese: Iridium
iridium in Haitian: Iridyòm
iridium in Kurdish: Îrîdyûm
iridium in Latin: Iridium
iridium in Latvian: Irīdijs
iridium in Luxembourgish: Iridium
iridium in Lithuanian: Iridis
iridium in Limburgan: Iridium
iridium in Lojban: jinmrdiridi
iridium in Hungarian: Irídium
iridium in Malayalam: ഇറിഡിയം
iridium in Dutch: Iridium (element)
iridium in Japanese: イリジウム
iridium in Norwegian: Iridium
iridium in Norwegian Nynorsk: Iridium
iridium in Occitan (post 1500): Iridi
iridium in Polish: Iryd
iridium in Portuguese: Irídio
iridium in Romanian: Iridiu
iridium in Russian: Иридий
iridium in Sicilian: Irìdiu
iridium in Simple English: Iridium
iridium in Slovak: Irídium
iridium in Slovenian: Iridij
iridium in Serbian: Иридијум
iridium in Serbo-Croatian: Iridijum
iridium in Finnish: Iridium
iridium in Swedish: Iridium
iridium in Tamil: இரிடியம்
iridium in Thai: อิริเดียม
iridium in Vietnamese: Iridi
iridium in Turkish: İridyum
iridium in Ukrainian: Іридій
iridium in Chinese: 铱
Privacy Policy, About Us, Terms and Conditions, Contact Us
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2
Material from Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Dict
Valid HTML 4.01 Strict, Valid CSS Level 2.1