Two centuries after Englishman William Hyde Wollaston first isolated the element palladium, researchers have now uncovered fundamental new information about the material.
Palladium–a soft, gray-white metal that resembles platinum–is a component in dental alloys, jewelry, and electrical contacts. It also serves as an important catalyst in countless chemical reactions, including those that occur in automobiles' catalytic converters. Fundamental reactions widely used to produce pharmaceuticals, such as reactions that add hydrogen atoms to molecules, also rely on palladium catalysts.
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