Osmium tetroxide

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40.25 °C

129.7 °C

Osmium tetroxide is the chemical compound with the formula OsO4. The compound is noteworthy for its many uses, despite the rarity of osmium. It also has a number of interesting properties, one being that the solid is volatile.

Contents

Physical properties

Osmium tetroxide exists as a pale yellow-brown crystalline solid (monoclinic crystal symmetry[2]) with a characteristic acrid chlorine-like odor[3]. In fact, the element name osmium is derived from osme, Greek for odor. OsO4 is volatile: it sublimes at room temperature. It is soluble in a wide range of organic solvents, and moderately soluble in water, with which it reacts reversibly to form osmic acid (see below).[4] Pure osmium tetraoxide is probably colourless[5] and it has been suggested that its yellow hue is due to osmium dioxide (OsO2) impurities[6] although osmium (IV) oxide normally exists as a black powder[7] so this may not be true. Osmium tetroxide molecule is tetrahedral and therefore non-polar. This nonpolarity helps OsO4 penetrate charged cell membranes. OsO4 is 518 times more soluble in CCl4 than in water.

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