3 Osmium Uses in Different Industries

The periodic table has around 118 elements but we are yet to utilise most of the elements in various ways. Let us see how productive the element Osmium is.

The industrial uses of Os and its derivatives are as follows:

  • Forensics
  • Biomedical purpose
  • Organic Synthesis
  • Alloying
  • Incandescent lamps

This article will see how the properties and uses of Osmium are discussed.

Osmium Tetroxide Uses

Osmium Tetroxide, the chemical formula being OsO4, has the highest oxidation state of Os and is soluble in common organic solvents. The diverse applications of OsO4 are as follows:

  • Microscopic Techniques:
    • OsO4 helps in cross-linking lipids so that it can be stained in electron microscopy.
    • OsO4 can be used in fingerprint detection.
    • It is used to stain copolymers and helps these materials to get detected in microscopic techniques.
  • Chemical Synthesis:
    • OsO4 is a useful in oxidising alkenes to cis-diols in a process called Sharpless asymmetric dihydroxylation.
    • In organic synthesis, a combination of OsO4 and sodium periodate can cleave the alkenes forming carbonyl compounds.
  • Instrumental Techniques:
    • Using instrumental techniques like X-ray crystallography, the symmetry of Buckminister Fullerene is confirmed by adduct formation with OsO4. The OsO4 is attached onto the surface of the C60 molecule, showing structural deviations.

Osmium Sponge Uses

Osmium sponge refers to the powdered form of Osmium, which is sold commercially at a higher price as Osmium is not easily found. Applications of Osmium sponge are:

  • Osmium Sponge is used to harden the matrix of the alloys of Platinum and Iridium.
  • The combination of Osmium Sponge and inert metal alloys like Iridium is fountain pens, electrical pivots and phonographic needles.


Osmium is a rare element with very low abundance in the earth’s crust but is used in different sectors, mainly due to its hardness and durability. Since Osmium and its derivatives are to be handled with caution, alloys are more in demand than the pure states of the compound.