Element Poster by: Lezlie Hausmann


Family: Transition Metals

Group: Platinum Group

Period: 6

Platinum Atoms

Atomic Number: 78

Mass: 195 AMU

Protons: 78

Neutrons: 117

Electrons: 78

Symbol: Pt

Where is it found in nature?

It occurs in some nickel and copper ores along with some native deposits, mostly in South Africa, which accounts for 80% of the world production. Because of its scarcity in Earth's crust, only a few hundred tonnes are produced annually, and given its important uses, it is highly valuable and is a major precious metal commodity.

Uses of Platinum

Platinum is utilized in the chemicals industry as a catalyst for the production of nitric acid, silicone and benzene. It is also used as a catalyst to improve the efficiency of fuel cells.

Platinum is used considerably for jewelry. Its main use, however, is in catalytic converters for cars, trucks and buses. This accounts for about 50% of demand each year. Platinum is very effective at converting emissions from the vehicle’s engine into less harmful waste products.

The electronics industry uses platinum for computer hard disks and thermocouples.

Platinum is additionally used to make optical fibers and LCDs, turbine blades, spark plugs, pacemakers and dental fillings.

Platinum compounds are vital chemotherapy drugs used to treat cancers.

Characteristics of Platinum

Platinum is considered non-toxic. It is precious metal; soft silvery white, and compact with a beautiful polished sheen. It is one of six in the platinum group metals consisting of platinum, palladium, rhodium, osmium, iridium and ruthenium.

Physical Properties

Platinum is a silvery-white, shiny metal that is as resistant to corrosion as gold. It is soft, ductile, malleable and has a fairly high melting point. It is dense and relatively rare metal.

Chemical Properties

Chemically, it's often described as a noble metal because it is so unreactive. It doesn't even react with oxygen in the air so it doesn't rust or tarnish. It's also reasonably resistant to attack from acids.


Platinum was discovered by Antonio de Ulloa in 1735 in South America. Platinum derived from the Spanish word platina, which means silver.