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ANNOUNCEMENT: THE FIRST PHOTOGRAPHIC IMAGES EVER PRINTED IN RUTHENIUM

Ruthenium is a noble metal of the platinum family. Even so, it is modestly priced: I purchased 5 grams for $135, which puts it in about the same cost class as palladium. Because ruthenium chloride does not dissolve in water, I use Ruthenium(III) chloride hydrate. Even in its hydrate form, I have found an 8% solution is the strongest viable for my purposes (printing photographs). And even at 8% strength, the ruthenium must be warmed (by placing the uncapped bottle in a tray of boiling hot water for several minutes) to redissolve particles that precipitate out as it cools.

With ammonium ferric ferrous oxalate, I succeeded on July 26, 2014, in printing the first photographic image -- ever -- with the noble element ruthenium. This follows barely a month after I announced printing the first photographic image ever with the noble element rhodium, also thanks to ammonium ferric ferrous oxalate.

At this time, I have developed out ruthenium with 4% silver nitrate, and printed out ruthenium 1:1 with palladium and gold. The image developed out with silver nitrate is chocolate brown, but I strongly suspect a 1% nitric acid first bath will push it toward gray scale (I had the same issue with the electrumtype -- gold developed out with silver nitrate-- and solved that with 1% nitric acid.)

Update 7/31/2014. After 48 hours, the ruthenium, even at 8% strength, began to precipitate out of solution. I diluted it to 6% to print a test image developed out with 4% silver nitrate (below). It appears I need to work with the ruthenium to determine the correct temperature for dissolving it, and to consider whether the potassium chloride I added is appropriate, or even whether any salt is needed. I suspect the precipitation was caused by the addition of the chloride salt.


3 drops 6% ruthenium(III) chloride hydrate, 3 drops AFFO-C(7:1%), printed w/test strips at 2, 4 and 6 minutes. Developed in 6 ml straight 4% silver nitrate. Initial color was gray scale. On clearing, the image exhibited a slight brown or beige case. Capture was by cell phone camera.

I print with my standard ammonium ferric ferrous oxalate, which is 40% ammonium ferric oxalate (AFO) updated for the 21st century by adding 7 drops of 1% ascorbic acid (vitamin C) solution to each 10 ml of the AFO. For the ruthenium-silver print, I use 3 drops of 8% ruthenium for a 4x5, 12 drops for an 8x10, and the same number of drops of ammonium ferric ferrous oxalate. This high volume of ruthenium seems necessary to obtain deep, rich images with the relatively weak (8%) solution. Future tests will resolve the matter. 5 ml of 4% silver nitrate mixed with 5 ml of corn syrup suffice to develop out the 4x5 image fully (while also making for a thicker solution which is easier to manipulate and control -- my work print is speckled with silver nitrate droplets, as were my first electrumtypes ...).