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46 rhodiumpalladiumsilver


Name, Symbol, Number palladium, Pd, 46
Chemical series transition metals
Group, Period, Block 10, 5, d
Appearance silvery white metallic
Atomic mass 106.42(1) g/mol
Electron configuration [Kr] 4d10
Electrons per shell 2, 8, 18, 18, 0
Physical properties
Phase solid
Density (near r.t.) 12.023 g/cm³
Liquid density at m.p. 10.38 g/cm³
Melting point 1828.05 K
(1554.9 °C, 2830.82 °F)
Boiling point 3236 K
(2963 °C, 5365 °F)
Heat of fusion 16.74 kJ/mol
Heat of vaporization 362 kJ/mol
Heat capacity (25 °C) 25.98 J/(mol·K)
Vapor pressure
P/Pa 1 10 100 1 k 10 k 100 k
at T/K 1721 1897 2117 2395 2753 3234
Atomic properties
Crystal structure cubic face centered
Oxidation states ±1
(mildly basic oxide)
Electronegativity 2.20 (Pauling scale)
Ionization energies 1st: 804.4 kJ/mol
2nd: 1870 kJ/mol
3rd: 3177 kJ/mol
Atomic radius 140 pm
Atomic radius (calc.) 169 pm
Covalent radius 131 pm
Van der Waals radius 163 pm
Magnetic ordering no data
Electrical resistivity (20 °C) 105.4 nΩ·m
Thermal conductivity (300 K) 71.8 W/(m·K)
Thermal expansion (25 °C) 11.8 µm/(m·K)
Speed of sound (thin rod) (20 °C) 3070 m/s
Speed of sound (thin rod) (r.t.) 121 m/s
Shear modulus 44 GPa
Bulk modulus 180 GPa
Poisson ratio 0.39
Mohs hardness 4.75
Vickers hardness 461 MPa
Brinell hardness 37.3 MPa
CAS registry number 7440-05-3
Notable isotopes
Main article: Isotopes of palladium
iso NA half-life DM DE (MeV) DP
100Pd syn 3.63 d ε - 107Rh
γ 0.084, 0.074,
102Pd 1.02% Pd is stable with 56 neutrons
103Pd syn 16.991 d ε - 103Rh
104Pd 11.14% Pd is stable with 58 neutrons
105Pd 22.33% Pd is stable with 59 neutrons
106Pd 27.33% Pd is stable with 60 neutrons
107Pd syn 6.5×106 y β- 0.033 107Ag
108Pd 26.46% Pd is stable with 62 neutrons
110Pd 11.72% Pd is stable with 64 neutrons

Palladium (chemical symbol Pd, atomic number 46) is a rare, silver-white metal. It is a member of the platinum group of elements and resembles platinum chemically. It is extracted from some copper and nickel ores. It has the unusual ability to absorb large quantities of hydrogen gas, expanding visibly as it does so.

Palladium and its compounds are extremely valuable catalysts for various chemical reactions, and palladium can be found in automobile catalytic converters. Palladium alloys are used in jewelry. In addition, this element is useful in a number of other applications, including dentistry, watchmaking, aircraft spark plugs, surgical instruments, and electrical contacts. Hydrogen absorbed in palladium is highly reactive and is used in reduction reactions. Palladium dichloride may be used in detectors for carbon monoxide and tests for the corrosion-resistance of stainless steel.



Palladium occurs in nature as a free metal and alloyed with gold, platinum, and other platinum group metals. It has been found in placer deposits in the Ural Mountains of western Russia, and in some parts of Australia, Ethiopia, and South and North America. In addition, it is commercially produced from nickel-copper deposits in South Africa, Ontario, and Siberia. Although the proportion of palladium in the nickel-copper ores is low, the processing of large volumes of ore makes this extraction profitable.


Palladium was discovered by William Hyde Wollaston in 1803 in England. Using a platinum ore that presumably came from South America, he performed a series of chemical reactions and obtained the compound palladium cyanide. Finally, by heating palladium cyanide, he was able to isolate palladium metal. He named the element in 1804, deriving the word from Pallas, the name of an asteroid discovered two years earlier.

Notable characteristics


Palladium is classified as a transition metal. In the periodic table, it lies in period five between rhodium and silver and is closely related to the latter two elements. In addition, it is situated in group ten (former group 8B), between nickel and platinum.

This silver-white metal does not react with oxygen at normal temperatures, and thus does not tarnish in air. It does, however, acquire a light tarnish in moist air containing sulfur.

This element resembles platinum, but among the platinum group metals, it has the lowest density and melting point. It is soft and ductile when annealed, but it greatly increases in strength and hardness when cold-worked. Palladium is chemically attacked by sulfuric acid, nitric acid, and hydrochloric acid in which it dissolves slowly. When it is heated to 800°C, a layer of palladium(II) oxide (PdO) is produced.

Palladium has the uncommon ability to absorb up to 900 times its own volume of hydrogen at room temperature. As it absorbs hydrogen, it expands visibly, like a sponge that swells when soaking up water. In so doing, it is thought to form palladium hydride (PdH2), but scientists are unsure if this is a true chemical compound.

Common oxidation states of palladium are 0, +1, +2, and +4. Although it was once thought that +3 was one of the fundamental oxidation states of palladium, there is no evidence for that. When several palladium compounds were investigated by the technique of X-ray diffraction, a dimer of palladium(II) and palladium(IV) was discovered instead. Recently, researchers synthesized compounds in which palladium has an oxidation state of +6.


Naturally occurring palladium is composed of six stable isotopes: 102Pd, 104Pd, 105Pd, 106Pd, 108Pd, and 110Pd. In addition, numerous radioactive isotopes are known, with mass numbers ranging from 91 to 124. The longest-lived radioisotopes are 107Pd, with a half-life of 6.5 million years; 103Pd, with a half-life of 17 days; and 100Pd, with a half-life of 3.63 days. Most of the other radioisotopes have half-lives that are less than a half hour.


  • Palladium(II) chloride, or palladium dichloride (PdCl2): This compound, prepared by the chlorination of palladium, is a common starting material for the synthesis of other palladium compounds. Palladium-based materials are valuable catalysts for the synthesis of organic chemicals. Moreover, palladium(II) chloride can rapidly stain stainless steel. Thus, solutions of this compound are sometimes used to test for the corrosion-resistance of stainless steel. Also, palladium(II) chloride is sometimes used in carbon monoxide detectors, as it can absorb large quantities of carbon monoxide gas.
  • Palladium hydride: This material consists of metallic palladium with a substantial quantity of hydrogen in its crystal lattice. At room temperature and atmospheric pressure, palladium can adsorb up to 900 times its own volume of hydrogen. Thus, palladium can store substantial quantities of hydrogen safely, and it is also useful for performing unusual chemical reactions. Details of how this adsorption process works are poorly understood.


  • Finely divided palladium forms a good catalyst for various chemical reactions, such as hydrogenation (addition of hydrogen atoms), dehydrogenation (removal of hydrogen atoms), and petroleum cracking (breaking of large, complex hydrocarbons to smaller, simpler ones). Also, palladium compounds are used as catalysts for reactions in which carbon-carbon bonds are formed.
  • The largest use of palladium today is in catalytic converters for automobiles. Much research is in progress to discover ways of replacing the much more expensive platinum with palladium in this application.
  • Palladium alloys are used in jewelry.
  • Palladium is one of two metals that can be alloyed with gold to produce "white gold." (Nickel can also be used.)
  • Like gold, palladium can be beaten into a thin leaf form, as thin as 100 nanometers (nm) (1/250,000 inch).
  • Since 1939, palladium itself has occasionally been used as a precious metal in jewelry, often as a replacement for platinum.[1]
  • Hydrogen readily diffuses through heated palladium. It thus provides a means of purifying the gas. Also, hydrogen dissolved in palladium is highly reactive, allowing it to be used in various chemical reductions.
  • Palladium and its alloys with silver are used as electrodes in multilayer ceramic capacitors.[2]
  • Palladium (sometimes alloyed with nickel) is used in connector platings in consumer electronics.
  • Palladium is also used in dentistry,[3] watch making, aircraft spark plugs, and the production of surgical instruments and electrical contacts.
  • This element is also used to make professional transverse flutes.
  • It is also used for palladium-hydrogen electrodes in electrochemical studies.
  • Palladium dichloride is sometimes used in carbon monoxide detectors and in tests for the corrosion-resistance of stainless steel, as noted above.

"Cold fusion"

In March 1989, researchers Stanley Pons and Martin Fleischmann announced that they had found a way to carry out a safe nuclear reaction at low temperatures in a tabletop experiment. The reaction, which was thought to involve the fusion of hydrogen nuclei, was dubbed "cold fusion." Palladium electrodes played an important role in this experiment. It was postulated that hydrogen atoms could be "squeezed" between the palladium atoms to help them fuse at lower temperatures than usually required for fusion to proceed. Since then, many other experiments have been conducted to test the possibility of cold fusion, but scientists remain divided on the issue of whether the observations are based on genuine cases of nuclear fusion.

See also


  1. Palladium Jewelry Retrieved December 9, 2007.
  2. Palladium Retrieved December 9, 2007.
  3. Palladium in Dentistry Retrieved December 9, 2007.


  • Chang, Raymond. 2006. Chemistry, ninth ed. New York: McGraw-Hill Science/Engineering/Math. ISBN 0073221031
  • Cotton, F. Albert, and Wilkinson, Geoffrey. 1980. Advanced Inorganic Chemistry, 4th ed. New York: Wiley.
  • Greenwood, N.N. and Earnshaw, A. 1998. Chemistry of the Elements. 2nd Edition. Oxford, U.K.; Burlington, Massachusetts: Butterworth-Heinemann, Elsevier Science. ISBN 0750633654
  • Palladium Los Alamos National Laboratory. Retrieved December 9, 2007.

External links

All Links Retrieved December 9, 2007.


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