Ruthenium was the last of the six platinum metals to be discovered after palladium, iridium, osmium, platinum and rhodium.
It is one of the rarest metals on Earth and is mainly found in the Ural mountains, USA and South Africa.
Its discovery was attributed to Karl Karlovich Klaus, a Russian chemist who extracted and purified the new lustrous and silvery white metal while investigating the waste residues of a platinum refinery in 1844. The name ‘ruthenium’ comes from the latin word ‘Ruthenia’, meaning Russia, as the ruthenium ores were initially discovered in the Russian Ural mountains.
Ruthenium is one of the most effective hardeners for platinum and palladium and is alloyed with these metals to make electrical contacts for wear resistance. It is used in chip resistors and in electrical contacts in alloys and filaments, in jewelry and in pen nibs. In addition, the inorganic dye ammoniated ruthenium oxychloride, also known as ruthenium red, is used in electron microscopy for staining nucleic acids and pectins.
Interestingly, some ruthenium complexes can absorb light and have been employed in dye-synthesised solar cells, a new low cost solar cell system which has the ability to absorbe light through smog and weather conditions that would normally inhibit light absorption.
To our knowledge, ruthenium has no known biological role, but has a great potential as anti-cancer drugs. Some compounds based on ruthenium have been developed and tested against cancer cell lines and resulted in less severe side effects compared to the more established platinum drugs. Promising ruthenium-based drugs are currently under clinical evaluation against some metastatic tumours and colon cancers.
To know more about the properties of ruthenium and its applications, please access the papers below. They will be free for you to enjoy until March 20th.
You can also take a look at the RSC Visual Element Periodic Table, and the Chemistry in its Element podcast. And if you work in the area of ruthenium biology, we hope you will consider submitting your next paper to Metallomics.
Distinct cellular fates for KP1019 and NAMI-A determined by X-ray fluorescence imaging of single cells
Jade B. Aitken , Sumy Antony , Claire M. Weekley , Barry Lai , Leone Spiccia and Hugh H. Harris
Metallomics, 2012, 4, 1051-1056
Contrasting cellular uptake pathways for chlorido and iodido iminopyridine ruthenium arene anticancer complexes
Isolda Romero-Canelón , Ana M. Pizarro , Abraha Habtemariam and Peter J. Sadler
Metallomics, 2012, 4, 1271-1279
Mechanism of interstrand migration of organoruthenium anticancer complexes within a DNA duplex
Kui Wu , Qun Luo , Wenbing Hu , Xianchan Li , Fuyi Wang , Shaoxiang Xiong and Peter J. Sadler
Metallomics, 2012, 4, 139-148
Combination of metallomics and proteomics to study the effects of the metallodrug RAPTA-T on human cancer cells
Dirk A. Wolters , Maria Stefanopoulou , Paul J. Dyson and Michael Groessl
Metallomics, 2012, 4, 1185-1196
Cellular uptake and subcellular distribution of ruthenium-based metallodrugs under clinical investigation versus cisplatin
Michael Groessl , Olivier Zava and Paul J. Dyson
Metallomics, 2011, 3, 591-599
Inhibitory effect of platinum and ruthenium bipyridyl complexes on porcine pancreatic phospholipase A2
Tina Kamčeva , Jörg Flemmig , Bojana Damnjanović , Jürgen Arnhold , Aleksandar Mijatović and Marijana Petković
Metallomics, 2011, 3, 1056-1063
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