Home SCIENCE Ruthenium Element The Most Mysterious Metal On Earth

Ruthenium Element The Most Mysterious Metal On Earth


Today I would like to tell you about such a metal as ruthenium which has recently received heavy coverage in the mass media. In the periodic table of chemical elements it belongs to the so-called platinum group which unites metals, chemical and physical properties of which are similar, and also those metals that are commonly found together in their naturally occurring minerals. Ruthenium is extracted from platinum ores. There are lots of ruthenium rich deposits in the Ural Mountains and also in the mountains of South and North Americas.

source/image: Thoisoi2 – Chemical Experiments!

By the way pure ruthenium was first extracted from ural ore by a Russian scientist, Karl Ernst Claus in the Kazan Federal University. He named the element after his motherland – Russia. He gave the metal its Latin name to be precise. The pure extracted ruthenium is a shiny and heavy metal with a quite high melting point – 2334°C. As some of the split ruthenium balls indicate, the metal is quite fragile and almost can’t be forged.

From a chemical point of view, however, the metal is very similar to its platinum fellow metals belonging to the platinum group. That is why it doesn’t react actively with most chemicals. This property of the metal can be used to grow beautiful metal crystals. The crystals form when ruthenium particles are transported as gas in vacuum and at high temperatures. Such crystals do not have oxide coating that is why they look stunning.


High resolution macro photos of such crystals look particularly interesting especially when crystals glitter in contre-jour lighting. Ruthenium almost doesn’t oxidize in air at room temperatures. Some minor changes occur only at high temperatures. After heating up with a gas burner ruthenium crystals start covering in multi-color ruthenium dioxide layer. Its thickness is extremely small.