Transuranium element

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The transuranium elements (also known as transuranic elements) are the chemical elements with atomic numbers greater than 92, which is the atomic number of uranium. All of these elements are unstable and decay radioactively into other elements.

Contents

Overview

Periodic table with elements colored according to the half-life of their most stable isotope.
Elements which contain at least one stable isotope.
Slightly radioactive elements: the most stable isotope is very long-lived, with a half-life of over two million years.
Significantly radioactive elements: the most stable isotope has half-life between 800 and 34,000 years.
Radioactive elements: the most stable isotope has half-life between one day and 130 years.
Highly radioactive elements: the most stable isotope has half-life between several minutes and one day.
Extremely radioactive elements: the most stable isotope has half-life less than several minutes. Periodic Table Radioactivity.svg
Periodic table with elements colored according to the half-life of their most stable isotope.
  Elements which contain at least one stable isotope.
  Slightly radioactive elements: the most stable isotope is very long-lived, with a half-life of over two million years.
  Significantly radioactive elements: the most stable isotope has half-life between 800 and 34,000 years.
  Radioactive elements: the most stable isotope has half-life between one day and 130 years.
  Highly radioactive elements: the most stable isotope has half-life between several minutes and one day.
  Extremely radioactive elements: the most stable isotope has half-life less than several minutes.

Of the elements with atomic numbers 1 to 92, most can be found in nature, having stable isotopes (such as hydrogen) or very long-lived radioisotopes (such as uranium), or existing as common decay products of the decay of uranium and thorium (such as radon). The exceptions are elements 43, 61, 85, and 87; all four occur in nature, but only in very minor branches of the uranium and thorium decay chains, and thus all save element 87 were first discovered by synthesis in the laboratory rather than in nature (and even element 87 was discovered from purified samples of its parent, not directly from nature).

All the elements with higher atomic numbers have been first discovered in the laboratory, with neptunium and plutonium later also discovered in nature. They are all radioactive, with a half-life much shorter than the age of the Earth, so any primordial atoms of these elements, if they ever were present at the Earth's formation, have long since decayed. Trace amounts of neptunium and plutonium form in some uranium-rich rock, and small amounts are produced during atmospheric tests of nuclear weapons. These two elements are generated from neutron capture in uranium ore with subsequent beta decays (e.g. 238U + n239U239Np239Pu).

All elements heavier than plutonium are entirely synthetic; they are created in nuclear reactors or particle accelerators. The half lives of these elements show a general trend of decreasing as atomic numbers increase. There are exceptions, however, including several isotopes of curium and dubnium. Some heavier elements in this series, around atomic numbers 110–114, are thought to break the trend and demonstrate increased nuclear stability, comprising the theoretical island of stability. [1]

Heavy transuranic elements are difficult and expensive to produce, and their prices increase rapidly with atomic number. As of 2008, the cost of weapons-grade plutonium was around $4,000/gram, [2] and californium exceeded $60,000,000/gram. [3] Einsteinium is the heaviest element that has been produced in macroscopic quantities. [4]

Transuranic elements that have not been discovered, or have been discovered but are not yet officially named, use IUPAC's systematic element names. The naming of transuranic elements may be a source of controversy.

Discovery and naming of transuranium elements

So far, essentially all the transuranium elements have been discovered at four laboratories: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in the United States (elements 93–101, 106, and joint credit for 103–105), the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Russia (elements 102 and 114–118, and joint credit for 103–105), the GSI Helmholtz Centre for Heavy Ion Research in Germany (elements 107–112), and RIKEN in Japan (element 113).

Superheavy elements

Position of the transactinide elements in the periodic table. Super heavy elements (polyatomic).svg
Position of the transactinide elements in the periodic table.

Superheavy elements, (also known as superheavy atoms, commonly abbreviated SHE) usually refer to the transactinide elements beginning with rutherfordium (atomic number 104). They have only been made artificially, and currently serve no practical purpose because their short half-lives cause them to decay after a very short time, ranging from a few minutes to just a few milliseconds (except for dubnium, which has a half life of over a day), which also makes them extremely hard to study. [5] [6]

Superheavy atoms have all been created since the latter half of the 20th century, and are continually being created during the 21st century as technology advances. They are created through the bombardment of elements in a particle accelerator. For example, the nuclear fusion of californium-249 and carbon-12 creates rutherfordium-261. These elements are created in quantities on the atomic scale and no method of mass creation has been found. [5]

Applications

Transuranium elements may be utilized to synthesize other superheavy elements. [7] Elements of the island of stability have potentially important military applications, including the development of compact nuclear weapons. [8] The potential everyday applications are vast; the element americium is utilized in devices like smoke detectors and spectrometers. [9] [10]

See also

Related Research Articles

The actinide or actinoid series encompasses the 15 metallic chemical elements with atomic numbers from 89 to 103, actinium through lawrencium.

Dubnium Chemical element with atomic number 105

Dubnium is a synthetic chemical element with the symbol Db and atomic number 105. Dubnium is highly radioactive: the most stable known isotope, dubnium-268, has a half-life of about 28 hours. This greatly limits the extent of research on dubnium.

Glenn T. Seaborg American chemist

Glenn Theodore Seaborg was an American chemist whose involvement in the synthesis, discovery and investigation of ten transuranium elements earned him a share of the 1951 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. His work in this area also led to his development of the actinide concept and the arrangement of the actinide series in the periodic table of the elements.

Hassium Chemical element with atomic number 108

Hassium is a chemical element with the symbol Hs and the atomic number 108. Hassium is highly radioactive; the most stable known isotope, 269Hs, has a half-life of approximately 16 seconds. One of its isotopes, 270Hs, has magic numbers of both protons and neutrons for deformed nuclei, which gives it greater stability against spontaneous fission. Hassium has been made only in laboratories in minuscule quantities; its possible occurrence in nature has been hypothesized but no natural hassium has been found so far.

Rutherfordium Chemical element with atomic number 104

Rutherfordium is a synthetic chemical element with the symbol Rf and atomic number 104, named after New Zealand physicist Ernest Rutherford. As a synthetic element, it is not found in nature and can only be created in a laboratory. It is radioactive; the most stable known isotope, 267Rf, has a half-life of approximately 1.3 hours.

Seaborgium Chemical element with atomic number 106

Seaborgium is a synthetic chemical element with the symbol Sg and atomic number 106. It is named after the American nuclear chemist Glenn T. Seaborg. As a synthetic element, it can be created in a laboratory but is not found in nature. It is also radioactive; the most stable known isotope, 269Sg, has a half-life of approximately 14 minutes.

Synthetic element chemical element that does not occur naturally on Earth, and can only be created artificially

A synthetic element is one of 24 chemical elements that do not occur naturally on Earth: they have been created by human manipulation of fundamental particles in a nuclear reactor or particle accelerator, or explosion of an atomic bomb; thus, they are called "synthetic", "artificial", or "man-made". The synthetic elements are those with atomic numbers 95–118, as shown in purple on the accompanying periodic table: these 24 elements were first created between 1944 and 2010. The mechanism for the creation of a synthetic element is to force additional protons onto the nucleus of an element with an atomic number lower than 95. All synthetic elements are unstable, but they decay at a widely varying rate: their half-lives range from 15.6 million years to a few hundred microseconds.

Darmstadtium Chemical element with atomic number 110

Darmstadtium is a chemical element with the symbol Ds and atomic number 110. It is an extremely radioactive synthetic element. The most stable known isotope, darmstadtium-281, has a half-life of approximately 12.7 seconds. Darmstadtium was first created in 1994 by the GSI Helmholtz Centre for Heavy Ion Research near the city of Darmstadt, Germany, after which it was named.

Livermorium is a synthetic chemical element with the symbol Lv and has an atomic number of 116. It is an extremely radioactive element that has only been created in the laboratory and has not been observed in nature. The element is named after the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in the United States, which collaborated with the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research (JINR) in Dubna, Russia to discover livermorium during experiments made between 2000 and 2006. The name of the laboratory refers to the city of Livermore, California where it is located, which in turn was named after the rancher and landowner Robert Livermore. The name was adopted by IUPAC on May 30, 2012. Four isotopes of livermorium are known, with mass numbers between 290 and 293 inclusive; the longest-lived among them is livermorium-293 with a half-life of about 60 milliseconds. A fifth possible isotope with mass number 294 has been reported but not yet confirmed.

Oganesson Chemical element with atomic number 118

Oganesson is a synthetic chemical element with the symbol Og and atomic number 118. It was first synthesized in 2002 at the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research (JINR) in Dubna, near Moscow, Russia, by a joint team of Russian and American scientists. In December 2015, it was recognized as one of four new elements by the Joint Working Party of the international scientific bodies IUPAC and IUPAP. It was formally named on 28 November 2016. The name is in line with the tradition of honoring a scientist, in this case the nuclear physicist Yuri Oganessian, who has played a leading role in the discovery of the heaviest elements in the periodic table. It is one of only two elements named after a person who was alive at the time of naming, the other being seaborgium, and the only element whose namesake is alive today.

The names for the chemical elements 104 to 106 were the subject of a major controversy starting in the 1960s, described by some nuclear chemists as the Transfermium Wars because it concerned the elements following fermium on the periodic table.

Moscovium is a synthetic chemical element with the symbol Mc and atomic number 115. It was first synthesized in 2003 by a joint team of Russian and American scientists at the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research (JINR) in Dubna, Russia. In December 2015, it was recognized as one of four new elements by the Joint Working Party of international scientific bodies IUPAC and IUPAP. On 28 November 2016, it was officially named after the Moscow Oblast, in which the JINR is situated.

Tennessine is a synthetic chemical element with the symbol Ts and atomic number 117. It is the second-heaviest known element and the penultimate element of the 7th period of the periodic table.

Copernicium Chemical element with atomic number 112

Copernicium is a synthetic chemical element with the symbol Cn and atomic number 112. Its known isotopes are extremely radioactive, and have only been created in a laboratory. The most stable known isotope, copernicium-285, has a half-life of approximately 28 seconds. Copernicium was first created in 1996 by the GSI Helmholtz Centre for Heavy Ion Research near Darmstadt, Germany. It is named after the astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus.

Nihonium Chemical element with atomic number 113

Nihonium is a synthetic chemical element with the symbol Nh and atomic number 113. It is extremely radioactive; its most stable known isotope, nihonium-286, has a half-life of about 10 seconds. In the periodic table, nihonium is a transactinide element in the p-block. It is a member of period 7 and group 13.

Albert Ghiorso nuclear scientist

Albert Ghiorso was an American nuclear scientist and co-discoverer of a record 12 chemical elements on the periodic table. His research career spanned six decades, from the early 1940s to the late 1990s.

A period 7 element is one of the chemical elements in the seventh row of the periodic table of the chemical elements. The periodic table is laid out in rows to illustrate recurring (periodic) trends in the chemical behaviour of the elements as their atomic number increases: a new row is begun when chemical behaviour begins to repeat, meaning that elements with similar behaviour fall into the same vertical columns. The seventh period contains 32 elements, tied for the most with period 6, beginning with francium and ending with oganesson, the heaviest element currently discovered. As a rule, period 7 elements fill their 7s shells first, then their 5f, 6d, and 7p shells in that order, but there are exceptions, such as uranium.

In chemistry, superheavy elements, also known as transactinide elements, transactinides, or super-heavy elements, are the chemical elements with atomic numbers greater than 103. The superheavy elements are located immediately beyond the actinides in the periodic table; the heaviest actinide is lawrencium. By definition, superheavy elements are also transuranic elements, i.e. having atomic numbers greater than that of uranium (92).

Chemical elements may be named from various sources: sometimes based on the person who discovered it, or the place it was discovered. Some have Latin or Greek roots deriving from something related to the element, for example some use to which it may have been put.

Unbiquadium, also known as element 124 or eka-uranium, is the hypothetical chemical element with atomic number 124 and placeholder symbol Ubq. Unbiquadium and Ubq are the temporary IUPAC name and symbol, respectively, until the element is discovered, confirmed, and a permanent name is decided upon. In the periodic table, unbiquadium is expected to be a g-block superactinide and the sixth element in the 8th period. Unbiquadium has attracted attention, as it may lie within the island of stability, leading to longer half-lives, especially for 308Ubq which is predicted to have a magic number of neutrons (184).

References

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  5. 1 2 Heenen, Paul-Henri; Nazarewicz, Witold (2002). "Quest for superheavy nuclei" (PDF). Europhysics News. 33 (1): 5–9. Bibcode:2002ENews..33....5H. doi:10.1051/epn:2002102. Archived (PDF) from the original on 20 July 2018.
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  7. Lougheed, R. W.; et al. (1985). "Search for superheavy elements using 48Ca + 254Esg reaction". Physical Review C . 32 (5): 1760–1763. Bibcode:1985PhRvC..32.1760L. doi:10.1103/PhysRevC.32.1760. PMID   9953034.
  8. Gsponer, André; Hurni, Jean-Pierre (1997). The Physical Principles of Thermonuclear Explosives, Intertial Confinement Fusion, and the Quest for Fourth Generation Nuclear Weapons (PDF). International Network of Engineers and Scientists Against Proliferation. pp. 110–115. ISBN   978-3-933071-02-6. Archived (PDF) from the original on 6 June 2018.
  9. "Smoke Detectors and Americium", Nuclear Issues Briefing Paper, 35, May 2002, archived from the original on 11 September 2002, retrieved 2015-08-26
  10. Nuclear Data Viewer 2.4, NNDC

Further reading