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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 (notable example; Pt/Ir sparkplugs).
Osmium/iridium alloys are used for ballpoint pen tips and for compass bearings.
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.
Although brittle, it is extremely hard (over 4 times that of platinum itself) and with its high melting point, temperature stability and corrosion resistance, is used in high-temperature equipment such as the crucibles used to grow crystals for laser technology.
Its biological compatibility is what we owe most to iridium as this enables it to be used in a range of medical and surgical applications. Iridium can be found in health technology combating cancer, Parkinson's disease, heart conditions and even deafness and blindness.
A shiny, oxidation-resistant metal, iridium also adds to the brilliance and durability of jewellery. It also has industrial applications such as the production of chlorine and caustic soda.
One of the first uses for osmium and iridium was as a coating for fountain pen nibs. This is still the case today, both as individual metals and alloyed together.
Due to their hardness, the performance and longevity of nibs, which would otherwise face rapid friction corrosion, is greatly enhanced.
J Neurosci Methods. 2004 Aug 30;137(2):141-50. Related Articles, Links
Over-pulsing degrades activated iridium oxide films used for intracortical neural stimulation.
Cogan SF, Guzelian AA, Agnew WF, Yuen TG, McCreery DB.
EIC Laboratories Inc., 111 Downey St., Norwood, MA 02062, USA. firstname.lastname@example.org
Microelectrodes using activated iridium oxide (AIROF) charge-injection coatings have been pulsed in cat cortex at levels from near-threshold for neural excitation to the reported in vitro electrochemical charge-injection limits of AIROF. The microelectrodes were subjected to continuous biphasic current pulsing, using an 0.4V (versus Ag|AgCl) anodic bias with equal cathodal and anodal pulse widths, for periods up to 7h at a frequency of either 50Hz or 100Hz. At charge densities of 3mC/cm(2), histology revealed iridium-containing deposits in tissue adjacent to the charge-injection sites and scanning electron microscopy of explanted electrodes revealed a thickened and poorly adherent AIROF coating. Microelectrodes pulsed at 2mC/cm(2) or less remained intact, with no histologic evidence of non-biologic deposits in the tissue. AIROF microelectrodes challenged in vitro under the same pulsing conditions responded similarly, with electrodes pulsed at 3mC/cm(2) showing evidence of AIROF delamination after only 100s of pulsing at 100Hz (10,000 pulses total), while electrodes pulsed at 2mC/cm(2) for 7h at 50Hz (1.3 x 10(6) pulses total) showed no evidence of damage. In vitro electrochemical potential transient measurements in buffered physiologic saline indicate that polarizing the AIROF beyond the potential window for electrolysis of water (-0.6 to 0.8V versus Ag|AgCl) results in the observed degradation.
J Chem Phys. 2004 Aug 22;121(8):3745-50. Related Articles, Links
Intermolecular energy transfer involving an iridium complex studied by a combinatorial method.
Suljovrujic E, Ignjatovic A, Srdanov VI, Mitsumori T, Wudl F.
Institute for Quantum Engineering, Science and Technology, University of California, Santa Barbara, California 93106, USA.