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The lustrous silvery-white metal known as palladium is a precious metal that does not tarnish. It is a member of the platinum group metals, alongside platinum, rhodium, ruthenium and iridium. Like gold and silver, it is a rare and valuable metal. It is also much harder and more dense than gold.
Palladium is used in catalytic converters for automobiles, as a dental filling material, in jewelry, and for electronics components. It is more expensive than platinum and gold, but it has superior properties, including better wear resistance and the ability to withstand high temperatures. In the last five years, the palladium spot price has appreciated by nearly 400%, outperforming both gold and silver.
Like all other precious metals, palladium has unique physical properties, and it is therefore difficult to produce in pure form. This is why it is often alloyed with other metals in order to be used in practical applications. Palladium-silver (23-25% silver) is the most common palladium alloy. Other alloys include gold, indium, tin and zinc. Gallium is added to the alloys in order to act as a grain refiner, creating a tighter metallic structure and improving casting characteristics.
It is possible to press and sinter palladium for discrete jewellery articles, but MIM is not yet commercially viable. The alloy does not react with oxygen at standard temperature, but heating to 800 degC will cause a surface layer of palladium(II) oxide. It is very resistant to corrosion in most industrial solvents, but may oxidize in contact with acids. It is nontoxic, but chronic exposure to soluble compounds can cause a permanent bluish-gray discoloration of the skin and eyes called argyria.