Platinum was used
by the pre-Columbian Indians of South America, platinum
wasn't noticed by western scientists until 1735.
Platinum can occur free in nature and is sometimes found
in deposits of gold-bearing sands, primarily those found
in the Ural mountains, Columbia and the western United
States. Platinum, in the form of the mineral sperrylite
(PtAs2), is also obtained as a byproduct of
the nickel mining operation in the Sudbury region
of Ontario, Canada. Credit for the modern rediscovery of
platinum is usually given to Antonio de Ulloa.
Platinum is a
soft, dense, ductile metal that is very resistant to
corrosion. It is used to make jewelry, wire, electrical
contacts and laboratory vessels. Platinum expands at
nearly the same rate as soda-lime-silica glass, so it is
used to make sealed electrodes in glass systems.
Platinum is used to coat missile nose cones, jet engine
fuel nozzles and other devices that must operate
reliably for long periods of time at high temperatures.
Platinum resistance wires are used in high temperature
electric furnaces. Platinum anodes are used in cathodic
protection systems to prevent ships, pipelines and steel
piers from corroding in salt water.