Chemical Element: platinum

(Modern Latin: a diminutive of the Spanish plata, "silver", "platina"; metal)

Chemical-Element Information

Symbol: Pt
Atomic number: 78
Year discovered: 1748

Discovered by: Antonio de Ulloa (1716-1795), a Spanish naval officer and scientist, in South America.

  • A metallic casket found among the relics of seventh century B.C. Egypt is reported to be of platinum.
  • The metal was used by pre-Columbian Indians but platinum was “rediscovered” in South America by a Spanish scientist, Antonio de Ulloa in 1748.
  • He remarked about its peculiar properties, and when properly examined, it turned out to be denser than gold, higher-melting, and even less reactive; which proved to be very useful to scientists for just these properties.
  • In 1822, amounts of platinum were discovered in the Ural Mountains in Russia.
  • The usefulness of platinum is due to its resistance to corrosion or chemical attack and to its high melting point.
  • With such a high melting point platinum is not easily fused or cast.
  • Platinum did not receive general recognition in ancient times.
  • Large deposits as heavy river sands were uncovered in the 16th-century Spanish conquest of South America.
  • The Spaniard called the new metal “Platina del Pinto” after the Rio Pinto, from which its present name was taken and “platina” is also supposed to be a Spanish word for “silver”.
  • Samples of the element received the general attention of European scientists in the latter 18th century.
  • Platinum occurs in native alloys which frequently contain smaller amounts of other platinum metals.
  • Platinum is used in the preparation of electrical contacts, and spark-plug points, because it resists the high temperature and chemical attack of electric arcs.
  • The manufacture of jewelry and dental alloys consumes large amounts of the metal.

Name in other languages:

French: platine

German: Platin

Italian: platino

Spanish: platino

Information about other elements may be seen at this Chemical Elements List.

A special unit about words that include chemo-, chem- may be seen here.