Platinum


The first reference to platinum appears in 1557 on the writings of Julius Caesar Scaliger as a description of a substance found in Central American mines ("up until now was impossible to melt by any of the Spanish arts"). In the middle of the 18th century there is a reference to platinum as a material that occurs mixed with gold in the mines of Colombia. The platinum name is a diminutive of silver (plata), due to the likeliness of their properties. During the 18th century the first platinum samples arrive to Europe, leading to the first metal experiences accomplished by the English physician William Brownring and communicated to the Royal Society, in 1750. In 1775, l'Ísle successfully melted platinum for the first time, after the separation from iron and sand. Pierre-Francois Chabaneau developed and patented, in 1786, a process to produce malleable platinum. The first sample of pure platinum seems to have been obtained in England, during 1803, by W. H. Wollaston while carefully studying several platinum solutions in aqua regia, what would also lead to the discovery of other elements such as palladium or rhodium. The method used by Wollaston was a predecessor of the modern metallurgical techniques to produce platinum.