Ruthenium is a chemical element with symbol Ru and atomic number 44. It is a rare transition metal belonging to the platinum group of the periodic table. Like the other metals of the platinum group, ruthenium is inert to most other chemicals. The Baltic German scientist Karl Ernst Claus discovered the element in 1844, and named it after Ruthenia, the Latin word for Rus'. Ruthenium usually occurs as a minor component of platinum ores and its annual production is only about 20 tonnes. Most ruthenium is used for wear-resistant electrical contacts and the production of thick-film resistors. A minor application of ruthenium is its use in some platinum alloys.
A polyvalent hard white metal, ruthenium is a member of the platinum group and is in group 8 of the periodic table:
However, it has an atypical configuration in its outermost electron shells: whereas all other group 8 elements have 2 electrons in the outermost shell, in ruthenium, one of those is transferred to a lower shell. This effect can be observed in the neighboring metals niobium (41), rhodium (45), and palladium (46).
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