Osmium Knowledge

Osmium Knowledge

At the beginning of the 20th century, osmium had its first important application. It was first processed into filaments for use in light bulbs. In fact, the name of Osram derives from the German name of the elements osmium (German: Osmium) and tungsten (German: Wolfram).

However, the use of osmium also had some disadvantages: It was expensive and the processing was difficult because osmium is very brittle and cannot be processed into long threads.

For this reason, osmium was replaced after a short time first by tantalum and then by tungsten.

A light bulb from these days can still be seen in the Deutsches Museum in Munich, Germany.



The element osmium has been discovered in combination with the element iridium in 1804 by British chemist Smithson Tennant when investigating insoluble residues of platinum ore which had been dissolved in here may remain cut .
Since osmium tetroxide smelled extremely pungent and chlorine-like, Tennant named it after the Greek term for smell, “osme”. In 1814, Jäns Jakob Berzelius assigned osmium the symbol Os.


The annual production since 2019 is about 1000 kg. A significant amount is used for crystallization, the remaining amount in the form of osmium compounds is used internationally in industry and academic research.

Thus, its economic and industrial importance is very low. In its non-toxic crystalline form, however, osmium has become prevalent in watch and jewellery manufacture.

Because of its extreme rarity, the price of crystalline osmium has been strongly increasing for some time.

A platinum-osmium alloy is used in pacemakers and artificial heart valves. Furthermore, osmium serves as a catalyst for chemical syntheses, such as dihydroxylation.



Osmium leads the list of the rarest elements among the non-radioactive elements and usually occurs together with platinum. Osmium can also be found together with ruthenium, palladium and rhodium.

The main deposits of osmium are in Borneo, Japan, North and South America, Tasmania and the Ural Mountains. In general, deposits are divided into primary and secondary deposits. Primary minerals include iron, chromium, copper and nickel ores containing osmium. Secondary deposits consist of platinum-group metals combined with osmium.

The most common alloys are iridosmium and osmiridium, which both occur naturally.


Osmium is currently sold in the following standard products:


Osmium Diamond, 3 mm diameter, flat crystal structure, approx. 0.07 to 0.13 g weight.

Osmium star, 4 mm longest diameter, flat crystal structure, approx. 0.07 to 0.13 g weight.

Osmium Star Rows, up to 40 mm length, flat crystal structure consisting of several stars, 0.14 g to 7 g

Osmium Flat Bars, rectangular, 1 g to 10 g

Osmium Round Bars, inside diameter variable between approx. 10 and 25 mm, ring shape, weight depending on diameter.

Osmium Disk, approx. 55 mm diameter, flat and round disc, approx. 30 g

Osmium Pearls with a diameter of approx. 5 to 21 mm, three-dimensional structure, weight depending on diameter.


Osmium-Institut zur Inverkehrbringung und Zertifizierung von Osmium GmbH

Am Mösl 41
82418 Murnau am Staffelsee

Phone: 49 89 744 88 88 88

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Osmium Knowledge