Transuranium element

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In chemistry, transuranium elements (also known as transuranic elements) are the chemical elements with atomic numbers greater than 92, the atomic number of uranium.

Of the elements with atomic numbers 1 to 92, all but four (43-technetium, 61-promethium, 85-astatine, and 87-francium) occur in easily detectable quantities on earth, having stable, or very long half life isotopes, or are created as common products of the decay of Uranium.

All of the elements with higher atomic numbers, however, have been first discovered artificially, and other than plutonium and neptunium, none occur naturally on earth. They are all radioactive, with a half-life much shorter than the age of the Earth, so any atoms of these elements, if they ever were present at the earth's formation, have long since decayed, other than trace amounts of Neptunium and Plutonium formed in some Uranium rich rock, and small amounts which escaped atmospheric tests of atomic weapons. The Np and Pu generated are from neutron capture in uranium ore with two subsequent beta decays (U-238 → U-239 → Np-239 → Pu-239).

Those that can be found on earth now are artificially generated synthetic elements, via nuclear reactors or particle accelerators. The half lives of these elements show a general trend of decreasing with atomic number. There are exceptions, however, including Dubnium and several isotopes of Curium. Further anomalous elements in this series have been predicted by Glenn T. Seaborg, and are categorised as the Island of stability.

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 is a source of controversy.

Discovery and naming of transuranium elements

The majority of the transuranium elements were produced by two groups:

Now-obsolete claims of discovery

Two other groups had worked on the preparation of transuranium elements, but their original reports have since been discredited:

  • A group at the Nobel Institute in Sweden, which claimed to have produced element 102, and named it nobelium, in honor of Alfred Nobel, inventor of dynamite and donor of the endowment for the Nobel Prizes. The name "nobelium" was ultimately agreed upon, though their production is no longer accepted.
  • A group at the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Dubna in Russia (then the Soviet Union) who claimed to have produced:
    • 104, which they named kurchatovium after the Soviet chemist Igor Kurchatov.
    • 105. Although their claim is not accepted, the name dubnium is now official for this element, named after the city where they worked. They originally proposed nielsbohrium for this element.
    • 106. seaborgium
    • 107. bohrium

List of the transuranic elements:

93 neptunium Np
94 plutonium Pu
95 americium Am
96 curium Cm
97 berkelium Bk
98 californium Cf
99 einsteinium Es
100 fermium Fm
101 mendelevium Md
102 nobelium No
103 lawrencium Lr
104 rutherfordium Rf
105 dubnium Db
106 seaborgium Sg
107 bohrium Bh
108 hassium Hs
109 meitnerium Mt
110 darmstadtium Ds
111 roentgenium Rg
112 ununbium Uub*
113 ununtrium Uut*
114 ununquadium Uuq*
115 ununpentium Uup*
116 ununhexium Uuh*

*The existence of these elements has been confirmed, however the names and symbols given are provisional as no names for the elements have been agreed on.

Super Heavy Atoms

File:Super-heavyelements.qualhiveldorf.jpg
Position of the super-heavy elements in the periodic table.

Super-heavy atoms are the transactinide elements beginning with rutherfordium (atomic number 104). They have all been made artificially and currently have no practical purpose because their half-lives do not allow the element to survive longer than a few minutes to just a few milliseconds, thus making the element extremely hard to study and serve no purpose other than research.

Super-heavy atoms have all been created during 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. These elements are created in quantities on the atomic scale and no method of mass creation has been found.

See also

cs:Transurany de:Transuran fr:Transuranien nl:Transuraan element ja:超ウラン元素 no:Transuran pl:Transuranowce sv:Transuraner