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Noble Metals

Last updated date: 23rd May 2024
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Noble Metals Periodic Table Definition and Explanation

Noble metals meaning refers to the selection of the periodic table's transition metal group. The list includes Silver, Gold, Platinum, Iridium, Palladium, Rhodium, Ruthenium, and Osmium. These metals are used to make noble alloys and various valuable elements. The noble metal prices vary hugely depending on their properties and various other factors like the ease to find and extract them and the noble metal refining process.

This section contains a brief description of the noble metals and popular 9 noble metals along with the others.

A Noble Metal: Brief Explanation 

Platinum also refers to a subset of some of these elements, famous as the Platinum group and Ruthenium, Rhodium, Palladium, Platinum, Iridium and Osmium. Furthermore, a noble metal can also be referred to as an inert metal, and it can be a more or a less noble metal. Ruthenium, Rhodium, Iridium and Osmium are also famous as refractory metals defined by having melting points above 2000°C.

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Most noble metals crystallise in the fcc (face-centred cubic) structure, except Ruthenium and Osmium. These three metals have an hcp (hexagonal close-packed) structure. A noble metal includes the properties at the nanoscale, and its applications are mainly in the fields of biomedicine and catalysis.

Silver (Ag) 

Silver has excellent electrical conductivity and higher chemical stability. Bulk Silver acts as a common element for making the higher-quality reflectors of electromagnetic radiations in a visible region, thus superseding the cheaper non-noble metals. Ag NPs have various applications like antimicrobial actions and catalytic properties, including enhancing the drinking water's microbial quality. Ag NPs represent ferromagnetic behaviour, and the percentage concentration of its surface atoms increases with the decrease in its particle size. 

Gold (Au) 

Due to exceptional chemical stability and good electrical conductivity, this noble metal has various significant uses. It is one of the best optical reflectors for the infrared region of the electromagnetic spectrum. Gold NPs have a more substantial size-dependent position of localised Plasmon resonance and have acquired attention in biomedicine, electronics and catalysis. Gold NPs also have a size-dependent magnetic behaviour that originates from the electron transfers between Gold's surface atoms and capping agents. 

Platinum (Pt) 

It is also ductile and malleable but is denser than the other ones. This inert metal is also chemically unreactive, but it is known to have a more significant density of free electrons, making it a suitable chemical catalyst. Platinum is widely used in catalytic converters for oxidising carbon monoxide that generates in combustion engines. Platinum also serves as a versatile electrode for electrochemical experiments. Platinum NPs are mainly engineered for catalytic applications and is also known to have been helpful in cancer therapies.

Palladium (Pd) 

Palladium is a silvery-white metal found in deposits with Platinum, Nickel, and Copper. It has corrosion resistance, and its noble alloys are used for making jewellery as "white gold." It has an extensive capacity for absorbing hydrogen in a ration 900:1 by volume, and thus it serves as an excellent catalyst for hydrogenation and dehydrogenation reactions. There are various ways to synthesise Palladium NPs, and they have various applications like antimicrobial actions and enhanced Raman scattering.

Iridium (Ir) 

It is also a silvery-white metal with higher corrosion resistance and higher density. It is an unworkable metal, but it is used in space components and spark plugs when alloyed with Platinum. Iridium NPs are synthesised using various chemical methods and tested as catalysts and sensors. It also helps as a biosensor to detect glucose.

Osmium (Os) 

Osmium is a member of the Platinum group and is found in its ores. It has a higher density and melting point. The alloys of osmium and Platinum are harder than Platinum and are helped for speciality equipment. Osmium oxide is toxic to the respiratory system. Osmium NPs are used for hydrogenation reactions, CO oxidation, and electrocatalysis for PEM fuel cells.

Ruthenium (Ru) 

Ruthenium is chemically inert and has a silvery colour. With less than 1% concentration, Ru can raise Palladium and Platinum alloys' hardness and increases the corrosion resistance in Titanium. Ruthenates also appear in electronics as the thicker film resistors, and some appear in the explorations of magnetism, superconductivity, and multiferroic prototypes.

Rhodium (Rh) 

Rhodium is a harder and silvery-white transition metal with corrosion resistance and chemically inert action. It is extensively used in the automotive industry and has other applications, like neutron flux detectors and electrical contracts. It also serves biological needs and heterogeneous catalysis.

FAQs on Noble Metals

Q1: What are Noble Metals? List Nine Noble Metals.

Ans: Noble metals are precious inert metals that resist oxidation and corrosion. Acid cannot quickly attack the noble metals. They are also opposed to base metals which are highly active in oxidation and corrosion.

Here are some noble metals:

  1. Ruthenium

  2. Rhodium

  3. Palladium

  4. Silver

  5. Osmium

  6. Iridium

  7. Platinum

  8. Gold

  9. Rhenium

Mercury is also sometimes listed as a noble metal, and some lists also include Rhenium. However, not all metals with corrosion resistance are noble and inert metals. Even though acid resistance is a quality of noble metals, different elements are affected differently by acid attack. Pd and Au dissolve in acid solution aqua regia, but Ir and Ag do not.

Noble metals are sometimes also referred to as the adjective for describing the chemical and galvanic action. Metals are thus ranked based on whether they are nobler or more active. 

Q2: List Out Some Uses of Noble Metals.

Ans: Noble metals are primarily used in jewellery, electrical applications, coinage, making protective coatings, and as catalysts for various reactions. Their exact usage differs from one element to another, like:

  1. Au, Ag, Pt, and Pd: These metals are mainly used for making coins and jewellery. They are also used in medicines, mainly silver which has antibacterial actions. They are excellent conductors and are also used sometimes for making contacts and electrodes. Platinum is a suitable catalyst; Pd helps in dentistry, spark plugs, watches, surgical instruments, and as a catalyst.

  2. Rh: It can be electroplated over Platinum, White Gold, and sterling silver for adding protection and shine. It is used as a catalyst in chemical and automotive industries and also used in neutron detectors.

  3. Ru: This helps to strengthen the alloys, mainly the ones involving a noble metal. It is used for making electrical contracts, fountain pen tips and as a catalyst.

  4. Ir: It is used similarly to Ru, like in spark plugs, crucibles, electrodes, and pen nibs. It is also an excellent catalyst.