Gas phase grown crystals of ruthenium metal.
Ruthenium, a polyvalent hard white metal, is a member of the platinum group and is in group 8 of the periodic table:
||No. of electrons/shell
||2, 8, 14, 2
||2, 8, 18, 15, 1
||2, 8, 18, 32, 14, 2
||2, 8, 18, 32, 32, 14, 2
Whereas all other group 8 elements have two electrons in the outermost shell, in ruthenium, the outermost shell has only one electron (the final electron is in a lower shell). This anomaly is observed in the neighboring metals niobium (41), molybdenum (42), and rhodium (45).
Ruthenium has four crystal modifications and does not tarnish at ambient conditions; it oxidizes upon heating to 800 °C (1,070 K). Ruthenium dissolves in fused alkalis to give ruthenates (RuO2−
4), is not attacked by acids (even aqua regia) but is attacked by halogens at high temperatures. Indeed, ruthenium is most readily attacked by oxidizing agents. Small amounts of ruthenium can increase the hardness of platinum and palladium. The corrosion resistance of titanium is increased markedly by the addition of a small amount of ruthenium. The metal can be plated by electroplating and by thermal decomposition. A ruthenium-molybdenum alloy is known to be superconductive at temperatures below 10.6 K. Ruthenium is the last of the 4d transition metals that can assume the group oxidation state +8, and even then it is less stable there than the heavier congener osmium: this is the first group from the left of the table where the second and third-row transition metals display notable differences in chemical behavior. Like iron but unlike osmium, ruthenium can form aqueous cations in its lower oxidation states of +2 and +3.
Ruthenium is the first in a downward trend in the melting and boiling points and atomization enthalpy in the 4d transition metals after the maximum seen at molybdenum, because the 4d subshell is more than half full and the electrons are contributing less to metallic bonding. (Technetium, the previous element, has an exceptionally low value that is off the trend due to its half-filled [Kr]4d55s2 configuration, though it is not as far off the trend in the 4d series as manganese in the 3d transition series.) Unlike the lighter congener iron, ruthenium is paramagnetic at room temperature, as iron also is above its Curie point.
The reduction potentials in acidic aqueous solution for some common ruthenium ions are shown below:
||Ru2+ + 2e−
||Ru3+ + e−
||RuO2 + 4H+ + 2e−
||↔ Ru2+ + 2H2O
4 + 8H+ + 4e−
|↔ Ru2+ + 4H2O
4 + 8H+ + 5e−
|↔ Ru2+ + 4H2O
||RuO4 + 4H+ + 4e−
||↔ RuO2 + 2H2O
Naturally occurring ruthenium is composed of seven stable isotopes. Additionally, 34 radioactive isotopes have been discovered. Of these radioisotopes, the most stable are 106Ru with a half-life of 373.59 days, 103Ru with a half-life of 39.26 days and 97Ru with a half-life of 2.9 days.
Fifteen other radioisotopes have been characterized with atomic weights ranging from 89.93 u (90Ru) to 114.928 u (115Ru). Most of these have half-lives that are less than five minutes except 95Ru (half-life: 1.643 hours) and 105Ru (half-life: 4.44 hours).
The primary decay mode before the most abundant isotope, 102Ru, is electron capture and the primary mode after is beta emission. The primary decay product before 102Ru is technetium and the primary decay product after is rhodium.
As the 74th most abundant element in Earth's crust, ruthenium is relatively rare, found in about 100 parts per trillion. This element is generally found in ores with the other platinum group metals in the Ural Mountains and in North and South America. Small but commercially important quantities are also found in pentlandite extracted from Sudbury, Ontario, Canada, and in pyroxenite deposits in South Africa. The native form of ruthenium is a very rare mineral (Ir replaces part of Ru in its structure).