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.
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 + n → 239U → 239Np → 239Pu).
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.
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,and californium exceeded $60,000,000/gram. Einsteinium is the heaviest element that has been produced in macroscopic quantities.
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.
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, (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.
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.
Transuranium elements may be utilized to synthesize other superheavy elements.Elements of the island of stability have potentially important military applications, including the development of compact nuclear weapons. The potential everyday applications are vast; the element americium is utilized in devices such as smoke detectors and spectrometers.
The actinoid series encompasses the 15 metallic chemical elements with atomic numbers from 89 to 103, actinium through lawrencium. The actinoid series derives its name from the first element in the series, actinium. The informal chemical symbol An is used in general discussions of actinoid chemistry to refer to any actinoid.
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 extended research on dubnium.
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 is a chemical element with the symbol Hs and the atomic number 108. Hassium is highly radioactive; its most stable known isotopes have half-lives of approximately ten 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 is a superheavy element; it has been produced in a laboratory only in very small quantities by fusing heavy nuclei with lighter ones. Natural occurrences of the element have been hypothesised but never found.
Lawrencium is a synthetic chemical element with the symbol Lr and atomic number 103. It is named in honor of Ernest Lawrence, inventor of the cyclotron, a device that was used to discover many artificial radioactive elements. A radioactive metal, lawrencium is the eleventh transuranic element and is also the final member of the actinide series. Like all elements with atomic number over 100, lawrencium can only be produced in particle accelerators by bombarding lighter elements with charged particles. Fourteen isotopes of lawrencium are currently known; the most stable is 266Lr with a half-life of 11 hours, but the shorter-lived 260Lr is most commonly used in chemistry because it can be produced on a larger scale.
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 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.
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, a particle accelerator, or the 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 widely varying rates: their half-lives range from a few hundred microseconds to millions of years.
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 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 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 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 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 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.
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 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).