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Awesome Osmium

  1. Mar 17, 2004 #1
    Osmium turns out to be harder than diamond:

    H Cynn and colleagues at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have established that the metal osmium has a higher hardness than diamond. The team placed a 60-mkm-across osmium sample in a diamond anvil cell and compressed it to 60 GPa. The bulk modulus of osmium as calculated from lattice spacing changes measured by x-ray diffraction was found to be K=462 GPa - to be compared with 443 GPA in diamond. This discovery came as a great surprise because osmium differs considerably from other large-K materials in its crystal structure. Osmium is a relatively heavy metal with a hexagonal structure, whereas diamond, for example, is a light material whose atoms are covalently bonded into a cubic structure.

  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 27, 2004 #2
    So, being harder than diamond, could osmium replace it as the primary material used for drilling and other industrial-related uses that require extra hard substances? I don't suppose they've found a way to produce this extra tough osmium efficiently, have they? Either way, this is a surprise to myself and I'm sure to others who have always thought of diamond as the single hardest natural substance on earth ( it was believed to be the hardest, right?). I wonder what other applications researchers will find for osmium, assuming that it can be used in a practical way.
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2004
  4. Mar 27, 2004 #3


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  5. Apr 3, 2004 #4
    Do you think diamonds might form better in singing pressaures?

    Might singing pressaure help in fussion?
  6. Apr 3, 2004 #5
    It doesnt look like osmium can be easily manufactured, it has a complex extraction process:

    Preliminary treatment of the ore or base metal byproduct is required to remove silver, gold, palladium, and platinum. The residue is melted with sodium bisulphate (NaHSO4) and the resulting mixture extracted with water to give a solution containing rhodium sulphate, Rh2(SO4)3. The insoluble residue contains the osmium. The residue is melted with Na2O2 and extracted into water to extract the ruthenium and osmium salts (including [RuO4]2- and [OsO4(OH)2]2-). The residue contains iridium oxide, IrO2. Reaction of the salt with chlorine gas gives the volatile oxides RuO4 and OsO4. The osmium oxide is dissolved by treatment with alcoholic sodium hydroxide to form Na2[OsO2(OH)4], and the osmium precipiated out as pure OsCl2O2(NH3)4 by treatment with NH4Cl. Evaporation to dryness and burning under hydrogen gas gives pure osmium. (From: http://www.webelements.com/webelements/elements/text/Os/key.html)
  7. Apr 26, 2004 #6


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    Osmium may be more resistent to pressure, but diamond is still more resistent to being scratched/cut.
  8. Apr 26, 2004 #7
    Scratch Match...

    p = 60 GPa - pressure:

    Bulk Modulus: (Hardness)
    K = 462 GPa - Osmium
    K = 443 GPA - Diamond

    This is true under normalized mineralogical/solid state conditions, however the 'scratch test' is a simple test of a minerals/material's 'Hardness'. Therefore, under conditions where p = 60 GPa, Osmium can 'scratch' a diamond and a diamond cannot 'scratch' Osmium.
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2004
  9. Apr 27, 2004 #8


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    Osmium is rare - very rare. No, even rarer than that.

    During the Manhatten project, the scientists made a request for a 10" sphere of osmium. The request was denied because it was several times more than the entire world's known supply of osmium.

    The only widespread application that I know about for osmium is microprobe tips.

  10. Apr 27, 2004 #9


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  11. Apr 27, 2004 #10


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    "...and if you act now, for a limited time only, you get Lawrencium!"

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