Glass & Platinum

Malleable but sometimes brittle 1760 – 1780

Carl von Sickingen researched platinum extensively in 1772 in Paris. He succeeded in making malleable platinum by alloying it with gold, dissolving the alloy in hot aqua regia, precipitating the platinum with ammonium chloride, igniting the ammonium chloroplatinate, and hammering the resulting finely divided platinum to make it cohere.

Franz Karl Achard made the first platinum crucible in 1784. He worked with the platinum by fusing it with arsenic, then later volatilizing the arsenic.ii

Because the other platinum-family members were not discovered yet (platinum was the first in the list), Scheffer and Sickingen made the false assumption that due to its hardness—which is slightly more than for pure iron—platinum would be a relatively non-pliable material, even brittle at times, when in fact its ductility and malleability are close to that of gold.

Their assumptions could not be avoided because the platinum they experimented with was highly contaminated with minute amounts of platinum-family elements such as osmium and iridium, amongst others, which embrittled the platinum alloy. Alloying this impure platinum residue called "plyoxen" with gold was the only solution at the time to obtain a pliable compound, but nowadays, very pure platinum is available and extremely long wires can be drawn from pure platinum, very easily, due to its crystalline structure, which is similar to that of many soft metals.