Iridium is a chemical element that is part of the platinum metal group. It has an atomic number of 77 and is represented by the chemical symbol Ir. It is a very hard, brittle metal and it is the most corrosive resistant metal on Earth. Even at high temperatures it shows little to no corrosion. Iridium was discovered in 1803 and was named after the Greek goddess Iris due to the many colors of its salts. Iridium is one of the rarest elements in the crust of the Earth with only three metric tons produced per year. Let’s take a look at some of the most common applications of Iridium in the world today.
Uses of iridium
- Iridium crucibles are used to grow high quality single crystals. These are used in electronics such as computer memory devices and solid state lasers.
- Iridium is also used in vehicle spark plugs.
- Iridium is used to create electrodes for the chloralkali process (the electrolyzing of sodium chloride to produce Hydrogen) and other chemical catalysts.
- Iridium alloys are used in processes that require resistance to wear such as the multi-poured spinnerets used to create polymer fibres such as rayon.
- An alloy of iridium and osmium is used to produce the tips of fountain pens. This alloy is also used in compass bearings and for balances.
- Another common use for iridium alloys is in the manufacture of long-life aircraft engine parts
- Deep water pipes are made from an iridium-titanium alloy because of its corrosion resistance.
- Iridium is also used as a hardening agent in Platinum alloys.
- The isotope iridium-192 is used as a source of energy for industrial ?-radiography. This isotope is also used as a source of gamma radiation for the treatment of cancer. It is used in brachytherapy in which a radioactive substance is placed inside or next to the area that needs treatment. It is mostly commonly used to treat prostate, bilary duct and cervical cancer.
- Iridium has been used in the construction of the radioisotope thermoelectric generators in unmanned spacecraft such as Voyager, Viking, Pioneer, Cassini, Galileo, and New Horizons. It is used to create a capsule around the fuel in the generator.
- Iridium is used as a reflective material in x-ray telescopes such as the ones in the Chandra X-ray Observatory.
- It also has uses in the field of particle physics. It is used to produce antiprotons. Iridium is used to construct the conversion target due to it’s high resistance to the energy shockwaves.