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The “Secretive” Element

Browse the full palladium catalog here



Discovery – 1802, William Hyde Wollaston, England

Crude ore samples from South America were revealing an abundance of useful and unknown metal in the early 19th century. Crude platinum ore samples contained platinum, copper, nickel, gold, silver, and an unknown element. English chemist, William Hyde Wollaston discovered this new element accidentally while attempting to purify platinum.1 Wollaston did not disclose his discovery, but instead marketed his findings as “new silver”.2 He sold samples of “new silver” in a small shop in Soho without revealing he was the discoverer.3

Irish chemist, Richard Chenevix, who happened upon this “new silver”, carried out some experimentation, and released his findings that Wollaston’s “new silver” was nothing more than an alloy of platinum and mercury. For Chenevix’s work, he was awarded a Copley Medal in 1803. Wollaston  countered (again, anonymously) by offering a reward for anyone who could confirm Chenevix’s claims.1,2 Chenevix himself took this up and released a follow-up study in 1805 on his work. After the follow up study of 1805, Wollaston revealed that Chenevix was incorrect, admitted his authorship and that he had correctly isolated palladium. Which Wollaston had communicated this result to the Royal Society before Chenevix’s 1805 work.4

Fun Facts about Palladium

  • Is heavily used in the auto industry
  • Is named after the asteroid Pallas
  • Converts harmful exhaust fumes to relatively benign gasses

Palladium Products and Functions


: Allyl(cyclopentadienyl)palladium(II).
This can be used to vapor deposit thin films of metallic palladium.

46-0100: Allylpalladium chloride dimer.
A common catalyst for the Tsuji-Trost reaction.

46-0300: Diacetatobis(triphenylphosphine)palladium(II).
A common catalyst for a number of cross-coupling reactions.


Browse the full palladium catalog here



  1. Annals of Science, 1978, 35, 551.
  1. Platinum Metals Rev., 2003, 47, 175.
  1. Philos. Trans. Royal Soc., 1804, 94, 419.
  1. Philos. Trans. Royal Soc., 1805, 95, 316.



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