Osmium is a blue-black or blue-gray metal that belongs to the platinum family of elements. It is a chemical element represented by the symbol Os and the atomic number 76. It is found naturally on earth where it usually forms alloys with other platinum group metals. It is an extremely rare element and is the least common of any stable element in the crust of the earth. It is obtained for commercial purposes as a by-product of copper, nickel and platinum processing. However, very little is produced each year because it is rare, has few uses and is extremely toxic. Let’s find out who discovered this element.
Who discovered osmium?
Osmium was discovered in 1803 by English chemist Smithson Tennant. This discovery came about through research into platinum ore that was first discovered in Columbia in the 17th century. The ore was brought to Europe and was found to be a new element called platinum. Scientists studying this element dissolved the substance in aqua regia (a strong acid mixture made up of hydrochloric and nitric acid). After this process they noticed that there was a small amount of dark residue left. One scientist guessed that this was graphite, but didn’t have enough to study it further. In 1803 other scientists also discovered the residue, but again didn’t have enough to study it in detail. Later this year, Tennant analyzed a larger sample of this residue and announced that it contained a new metal. After continuing his research he discovered that there were actually two new elements in the residue, osmium and iridium. He named one of these elements osmium after the Greek word osme, which means “a smell” because of the smoky smell of the compound osmium tetroxide. His discovery of these elements was documented in 1804.