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On the New Element Hafnium


IN a former letter to NATURE (January 20, p. 79) we announced the discovery of a new element with atomic number 72, for which the name hafnium was proposed. Evidence was given that this element is a homologue of zirconium in accordance with theoretical expectations (Bohr, “Theory of Spectra and Atomic Constitution,” p. 114, Camb. Univ. Press, 1922). Continued experiments enable us to complete the statements in the former letter. By the addition of a known quantity of tantalum (73) to our samples, and by a comparison of the intensity of the Ta-lines with the Hf-lines, a closer estimate of the amount of hafnium present has been obtained. We have investigated a great number of zirconium minerals from different parts of the world. They all contained between 5–10 per cent. of hafnium. In samples of commercial zirconium oxide investigated, we have found the new element, amounting in one case to as much as 5 per cent. Starting from the latter substance, by means of a chemical method which is also adapted to separate zirconium from the other tetravalent elements, we have been able to obtain several grams of a preparation in which the presence of about 50 per cent. of hafnium could be established. Conversely, we have succeeded in preparing zirconium in which no hafnium lines could be observed. Further particulars about the method of preparation and provisional determination of the atomic weight will be published shortly in the communications of the Copenhagen Academy.

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COSTER, D., HEVESY, G. On the New Element Hafnium. Nature 111, 182 (1923).

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