Iridium, with the chemical symbol Ir and atomic number 77, was discovered in 1803 by the British chemist Smithson Tennant. Its name is derived from the Latin word "iris," meaning "rainbow," due to the diverse colors of its compounds. Iridium belongs to the platinum group metals and was first isolated from platinum ores.
Iridium is relatively rare on Earth, constituting about 0.001 ppm of the Earth's crust. This scarcity adds to its special value. Because of its extreme hardness and resistance to corrosion, Iridium finds applications in various fields, especially in electronics for contacts, in chemistry as a catalyst, and in aerospace for heat-resistant alloys.
The production of Iridium involves mining platinum ores, followed by complex chemical processes for separation and purification. Major production countries include South Africa, Russia, and Canada, playing a significant role in global Iridium production.