Difference Between Ruthenium vs Iridium

Ruthenium and iridium are two members of the platinum group metals (PGMs) that share some similarities but also exhibit different properties and applications. Understanding the differences between these two elements can provide valuable insight into their respective roles in various industries and technologies. Let's look at the comparative analysis of Ruthenium vs Iridium.

ruthenium vs iridium


Ruthenium, with atomic number 44 and symbol Ru on the periodic table, is a rare transition metal that was discovered in 1844. It is mainly found with platinum, nickel and copper ores. Ruthenium has several unique properties that make it valuable in many applications:

  • Catalytic Properties: Ruthenium and its compounds are prized for their exceptional catalytic activity. They are widely used as catalysts in hydrogenation reactions and in the production of chemicals, pharmaceuticals and fertilizers.

  • Electronics: Ruthenium is used in thin-film resistors and electrical contacts in the electronics industry. Its excellent conductivity, corrosion resistance and high temperature stability make it an ideal material for these applications.

  • Renewable energy: Ruthenium plays an important role in renewable energy technologies, particularly in hydrogen production through water electrolysis. It is also being explored for use in dye-sensitized solar cells and fuel cell catalysts.

  • Medical Applications: Ruthenium compounds are promising as potential anticancer agents. Research is ongoing to develop ruthenium-based drugs for cancer therapy due to their selective toxicity towards cancer cells.

  • Corrosion Resistance: Ruthenium coatings are used to protect aerospace components, chemical processing equipment and jewelry from corrosion, extending their lifespan and enhancing performance.


Iridium, with atomic number 77 and symbol Ir, is another rare transition metal belonging to the platinum group. It was discovered in 1803 and is mainly obtained as a by-product of nickel mining. Iridium has several notable characteristics that contribute to its wide variety of applications:

  • High melting point: Iridium has the highest melting point among all the elements, making it suitable for high-temperature applications such as spark plugs, crucibles, and electrical contacts in severe conditions.

  • Catalysis: Although not as extensively used as ruthenium, iridium and its compounds also exhibit catalytic activity. They are employed as catalysts in various organic synthesis reactions and in the production of chemicals and pharmaceuticals.

  • Electronics: Iridium is used in the production of high-performance electrical contacts, especially in devices subject to extreme temperatures and corrosive environments.

  • Space Exploration: Iridium is used in aerospace applications, including satellite components and rocket engine nozzles, because of its exceptional durability and resistance to oxidation.


  • Melting Point: Iridium has a higher melting point (2,447°C) than ruthenium (2,334°C), making it more suitable for high temperature applications.

  • Catalytic Activity: Ruthenium is generally more widely used as a catalyst in various industries than iridium, although both metals exhibit catalytic properties.

  • Applications: While both metals are used in electronics, catalysis, and aerospace, ruthenium is used more prominently in renewable energy technologies and medical applications, while iridium has specific uses in spark plugs and high-temperature devices.

Ruthenium and iridium are valuable members of the platinum group metals with unique properties and diverse applications. Although they have some similarities, such as their use in electronics and catalysis, they also have distinct characteristics that make them suitable for specific purposes. Understanding the differences between ruthenium and iridium is essential to leveraging their respective strengths, driving innovation and progress in various industries and technologies.