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Platinum is a silvery white metal which, when pure, is ductile and malleable. It is non-reactive and does not oxidise in air at any temperature. However it is corroded by halogens, cyanides and sulfur and is attacked by caustic alkalies such as hydrochloric and nitric acid. It is also attacked by organic compounds such as methyl alcohol and formaldehyde. Fine platinum wire glows red hot when exposed to a vapor of methyl alcohol and is used for this purpose in cathodic protection systems for ocean-going vessels, pipelines and steel piers.
Platinum fluorides are complexes composed of platinum ions and hydrogen or oxygen ions. Their structure has not been completely established but they are thought to have a polymeric character. The platinum hexafluorides PtF6, RuF6 and RhF6 are volatile hydrates which decompose when heated to a high temperature, producing a mixture of orange coloured platinum dioxide and fluorine gas. They are also known to form crystalline adducts with selenium tetrafluoride and bromine trifluoride.
It has been the subject of much recent research to prepare and characterise the fluorides of the platinum metals. In particular the hexafluorides of platinum, rhodium and iridium have been extensively studied while the oxide fluorides of molybdenum, ruthenium and scandium are known. A number of unusual polymeric structures have been observed in the crystalline pentafluorides of ruthenium, osmium and iridium.
It has been a feature of the platinum metals that their chemistry has not always followed the general trend of other transition metals where the highest oxidation state in the fluorides is equal to the group number. This has been illustrated by the reactivity of the hexafluorides in comparison with the oxides.