Osmium applications

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Category: Sustainability

Subject: Osmium applications


What are the major applications for osmium? Is there any significant demand for this metal?


Osmium is a very dense, hard metal, and is used in high-friction applications such as fountain pen tips, instrument pivots, and electrical contacts.

Osmium in powdered form readily oxidises in air to form the toxic osmium tetroxide, which is used in the detection of fingerprints and as a forensic stain for microscope slides.

Osmium is also used in catalysis for chemical processes.

Patent activity can provide a useful guide to current interest in a material. See
Osmium: The Patent Landscape
and references cited therein.

For further information on osmium and its applications please see:

The International Platinum Group Metals Association - Osmium

Royal Society of Chemistry Visual Elements: Osmium

Webelements: Osmium

Answer posted 14 August 2006

Submitted by: Mr Tom Cobett

Affiliation: OmniSource Corporation

Answered by: Sara Coles

Affiliation: Johnson Matthey Technology Review