Chemists Create and Capture Einsteinium, the Elusive 99th Element


    fahrbot-bot shares a report from Live Science: Scientists have successfully studied einsteinium — one of the most elusive and heaviest elements on the periodic table — for the first time in decades. The achievement brings chemists closer to discovering the so-called ‘island of stability,’ where some of the heftiest and shortest-lived elements are thought to reside. The U.S. Department of Energy first discovered einsteinium in 1952 in the fall-out of the first hydrogen bomb test. The element does not occur naturally on Earth and can only be produced in microscopic quantities using specialized nuclear reactors. It is also hard to separate from other elements, is highly radioactive and rapidly decays, making it extremely difficult to study. Researchers from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) at the University of California, recently created a 233-nanogram sample of pure einsteinium and carried out the first experiments on the element since the 1970s. In doing so they were able to uncover some of the element’s fundamental chemical properties for the first time. […] The main finding from the study was the measurement of the einsteinium bond length — the average distance between two bonded atoms — a fundamental chemical property that helps scientists predict how it will interact with other elements. They found that einsteinium’s bond length goes against the general trend of the actinides. This is something that had been theoretically predicted in the past, but has never been experimentally proved before. Compared with the rest of the actinide series, einsteinium also luminesces very differently when exposed to light […]. Further experiments are needed to determine why. The study was published in the journal Nature. Read more of this story at Slashdot.


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