Coordination Polymers of Osmium: The Nature of Osmium Black

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Science  30 Jun 1967:
Vol. 156, Issue 3783, pp. 1737-1738
DOI: 10.1126/science.156.3783.1737


The design of cytochemical reagents that yield osmiophilic products from which an osmium black may be derived on exposure to osmium tetroxide has resulted in new methods described previously for the ultrastructural demonstration of enzyme activity and functional groups of macromolecules with the electron microscope. Attempts to determine the nature of the osmium black end products have been frustrated by their insolubility. The preparation of watersoluble analogs and their characterization as polymers suggest that the insoluble osmium blacks are coordination polymers. This is consonant with the unusually favorable properties of osmium black in electron microscopy. Although polymers of osmium have frequently been postulated as the end products of reaction of osmium tetroxide with tissue conistituents or with other organic compounds, this is the first example of their characterization.