DENSITY : 12.0 g/cm

The element palladium was isolated and identified by William Wollaston in 1803. Its name comes from the asteroid Pallas. (Pallas was another name for Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom.) Palladium in pure form is not found in nature. The preparation of the element is via a series of reactions. Platinum metal ore concentrates (65% of which come from the Merensky Reef in South Africa) are treated with aqua regia (giving copper and nickel as byproducts). The solutions, containing H 2 PdCl 4 with platinum and gold complexes, are treated with FeCl 2 (which precipitates gold) and then with excess of NH 4 OH followed by HCl to precipitate the impure [Pd(NH 3 ) 2 Cl 2 ]. This compound is purified by dissolution in NH 4 OH and precipitation with HCl. The pure [Pd(NH 3 ) 2 Cl 2 ] is ignited to palladium metal.

Palladium metal, like platinum metal, is silvery-white and lustrous and has malleable and ductile properties. It has the face-centered cubic crystal structure. It forms a fluoride, PdF 4 (brick-red), and other halides: PdF 2 (pale violet), α -PdCl 2 (dark red), PbBr 2 (red black), and PdI 2 (black). Pd metal can absorb up to 935 times its own volume of hydrogen molecules. When the composition reaches about PdH 0.5 , the substance becomes a semiconductor.

Palladium can form complexes in a variety of oxidation states. Table 1 contains some examples.

Palladium has extensive use as a catalyst in hydrogenation and dehydrogenation reactions, due to its capacity of combination with hydrogen. Palladium films are used as electrical contacts in connectors. Palladium-silver and palladium-nickel alloys are used to substitute for gold in jewelry.

Table 1. Some palladium complexes.
Table 1. Some palladium complexes.

Oxidation states Complexes
(0) K 4 [Pd(CN) 4 ] (yellow)
(I) [PdCl(CO)] x (reddish-violet)
(II) Na 2 [PdCl 4 ]
(IV) K 2 [PdF 6 ] (bright yellow)

Lea B. Zinner


Allred, A. L. (1961). Journal of Inorganic Nuclear Chemistry 17:215. Greenwood, Norman N., and Earnshaw, A. (1984). Chemistry of the Elements. New York: Pergamon Press.

Livingstone, Stanley E. (1973). "The Platinum Metals." In Comprehensive Inorganic Chemistry, Vol. 3, ed. J. C. Bailar Jr.; H. J. Emeléus; Sir Ronald Nyholm; and A.F. Trotman-Dickenson. Oxford, U.K.: Pergamon Press.

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