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Ruthenium: The “Elusive” Element

We Offer a Selection of 300+ Ruthenium Compounds



Browse the full ruthenium catalog here


Common Oxidation States

Melting Point

Density (g/cm3)

Common Isotopes


Atomic Radius

Crystal Structure


+3, +4

2334 °C


100Ru, 101Ru, 102Ru

2.20 (Pauling)

134 pm




Discovery – 1844, Karl Ernst Claus (modern day Ukraine)

In 1807, Polish chemist Jędrzej Śniadecki produced element 44, and named it “vestium” after the then-recently discovered comet Vesta. Whether this was truly ruthenium or not is subject to debate.1 Śniadecki’s work was not reproducible, and he dropped all claims of discovery and retracted his findings.2 In 1827, Jöns Berzelius and Gottfried Osann came incredibly close to discovering ruthenium. After dissolving crude platinum in aqua regia, Osann isolated three new metals which he named pluranium, ruthenium, and polonium. He gave the name “ruthenium” to this second metal because the crude platinum he analyzed came from the Ural Mountains in Russia. Ruthenia was a Latinized name for the lands of Rus’, which stemmed across what is now Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, Slovakia, and Poland, and included the Ural Mountain site in which the crude platinum was found. Much like Śniadecki before, however, Osann was unable to repeat his isolation of ruthenium, and retracted his work as well.

The elusive element 44 was finally isolated in 1844 by Russian chemist Karl Ernst Claus. Claus treated crude platinum with aqua regia, as Osann had done before, afforded ruthenium oxide. From this, he was able to obtain ruthenium in its pure form.4 He kept the name ruthenium stating, “I had every right to call it by this name because Mr. Osann relinquished his ruthenium and the word does not yet exist in chemistry.”3


Fun Facts

  • There are seven stable isotopes of ruthenium
  • Ruthenium is alloyed with platinum group metals for corrosion resistance
  • The famous Grubbs’ catalyst is a ruthenium-based catalyst
  • Fountain pen nibs are frequently tipped with ruthenium alloys, including the Parker 51 fountain pen


Ruthenium Products and Functions


44-7955: Ru(bpy)3. A photoredox catalyst with a variety of synthetic applications.5
44-0758: An electron-poor Hoveyda-Grubbs catalyst. Used for olefin metathesis reactions.
44-8000: Ru(thd)3. Used in atomic layer deposition of ruthenium thin films.6


Browse the full ruthenium catalog here



  1. Bull. Hist. Chem., 2010, 35, 33.
  1. Nature’s Building Blocks: An A-Z Guide to the Elements, 2011.
  1. Platinum Metals Rev., 1996, 40, 181.
  1. J. Chem. Ed.,1932, 9, 1017.
  1. J. Am Chem. Soc., 2008, 130, 12886.
  1. Chem. Vap. Deposition, 2004, 10, 215.


For more details on our Ruthenium products, please visit the links below:

Ruthenium Catalysts

The Strem Chemiker - Vol. XXX No. 2 - December, 2018

Metathesis Catalysts

Ruthenium Photocatalyst Kit

Catalysts & Ligands for Ruthenium/Iridium Hydrogenation

Selected Ruthenium Metathesis Catalysts


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