Osmium was discovered in 1803 by Smithson Tenant, who also discovered iridium at the same time. Both were found in the residue left by dissolving platinum with a mixture of hydrochloric acid and nitric acid. Osmium takes its name from the Greek word osmë, which means odor. Its strong odor is created when powdered osmium reacts with the air to form osmium tetroxide, a poisonous gas.
Osmium alloys are very hard, making them useful in devices where frictional wear needs to be reduced. The alloys can be found in the tips of ball point and fountain pens and in record player needles.Learn more about Atoms & Molecules