Science

Japanese scientists produce artificial palladium

Palladium electron shell (Image: Pumbaa via Wikimedia, CC 2.0)
Palladium electron shell (Image: Pumbaa via Wikimedia, CC 2.0)
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Palladium electron shell (Image: Pumbaa via Wikimedia, CC 2.0)
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Palladium electron shell (Image: Pumbaa via Wikimedia, CC 2.0)

Japanese researchers have used nanotechnology to develop a process which resembles something out of a 16th Century alchemy textbook. Although not producing gold, as was the aim of the alchemists, the scientists have discovered a technique that allows otherwise inert elements to be combined to form new intermediate alloy-elements. So far, an alloy of palladium has been created by mixing silver and rhodium together.

Professor Hiroshi Kitagawa and his team used nanotechnology to combine rhodium and silver to produce an alloy with similar properties to palladium, which is located between rhodium and silver on the periodic table. These two metals usually would not mix, as rhodium has 45 electrons and silver 47, and so are stable elements unable to react with each other under normal conditions. The research team overcame this hurdle by mixing rhodium and silver in solution which was then turned into a mist and mixed with heated alcohol. This process produced particles of the new alloy that are around 10 nanometres in diameter.

The new alloy has properties similar to the rare metal palladium. Part of the platinum group of metals, palladium should not to be confused with the rare earth minerals (also known as rare earth metals), a collection of seventeen elements in the periodic table, namely scandium, yttrium, and the fifteen lanthanides. Although the platinum group of metals are distinct from the rare earth metals, they are still hard to come by due to their global distribution and concentration.

The properties of palladium and other platinum group metals account for their widespread use in electronics, manufacturing, medicine, hydrogen purification, chemical applications and groundwater treatment.

Although the new alloy will be difficult to produce commercially, Kitagawa intends to use the production method to develop other alloys for use as alternative rare metals. Kitagawa has begun joint research with auto manufactures to further his research. The alloy was produced by researchers at Kyoto University, Japan.

12 comments
Mr Stiffy
This is clevera and useful.
Michael Mantion
Im sorry, this thing just reeks of BS. I have a feeling someone is board and felt like teasing the rhodium markets.
Bill Bennett
Michael? how board do you think they are? perhaps very bored?
Adrian Akau
\"Professor Hiroshi Kitagawa and his team used nanotechnology to combine rhodium and silver to produce an alloy with similar properties to palladium, which is located between rhodium and silver on the periodic table.\" This is a most important discovery. The title is not accurate because the individual components of the alloy retain their same number of protons (the factor which identifies an element). However, the effect of the alloy as being able to replace palladium is important in terms of manufacturing products requiring this rare and valuable element.
windykites
Bill Bennett: To be grammatically correct, you should use a capital letter after a question mark, and there should not be a question mark after \'Michael\'. Probably a colon. Then followed by a capital letter. Come to think of it, you should say \'he is\' and not \'they are\'. To continue: Michael, the word \'Im\' should be I\'m. Call me pedantic!
Michael Mantion
windy you are pedantic
cloa513
Don\'t see how their goal is going to work- all the elements next to the rare earths are rare earths except Barium and Hafnium and Hafnium is nearly as valuable as it usually used with Zirconium (\"alloy\"). Hafnium and Zirconium are difficult to separate and used in Chemical plants.
Gadgeteer
This article is badly written. It can\'t be an alloy of palladium if it doesn\'t have palladium in it. It\'s an analog of palladium.
dparks1940
Quoting \"Michael? how board do you think they are? perhaps very bored?\" Maybe they just have a board foot?
Sta2think
The interesting part is when they use the same method for neighbouring elements with very differing properties.