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Iridium is a dense, very hard, brittle, silvery-white chemical element, a transition metal of the platinum family. Iridium is used in high strength alloys that can withstand high temperatures and occurs in natural alloys with platinum or osmium. It is used in high temperature apparati, electrical contacts, and as a hardening agent for platinum.


The principal use of iridium is as a hardening agent in platinum alloys. Other uses:

  • For making crucibles and devices that require high temperatures.
  • Electrical contacts.
  • Osmium/iridium alloys are used for compass bearings.
  • Iridium is commonly used in complexes like polymer LED technology to increase the efficiency from 25% to almost 100% due to triplet harvesting.
  • Used in high-dose-radiation therapy.
  • Iridium is used as a catalyst for carbonylation of methanol to produce acetic acid.
  • Iridium is used in supercolliders in the production of antimatter, specifically antiprotons.
  • At one time iridium, as an alloy with platinum, was used in bushing the vents of heavy ordnance, and in a finely powdered condition (iridium black), for painting porcelain black.

Iridium was used to tip some early twentieth century fountain pen nibs. The tip material in modern fountain pens is still conventionally called "iridium," although there is seldom any iridium in it.