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Chemical investigation of hassium (element 108)


The periodic table provides a classification of the chemical properties of the elements. But for the heaviest elements, the transactinides, this role of the periodic table reaches its limits because increasingly strong relativistic effects on the valence electron shells can induce deviations from known trends in chemical properties1,2,3,4. In the case of the first two transactinides, elements 104 and 105, relativistic effects do indeed influence their chemical properties5, whereas elements 106 and 107 both behave as expected from their position within the periodic table6,7. Here we report the chemical separation and characterization of only seven detected atoms of element 108 (hassium, Hs), which were generated as isotopes 269Hs (refs 8, 9) and 270Hs (ref. 10) in the fusion reaction between 26Mg and 248Cm. The hassium atoms are immediately oxidized to a highly volatile oxide, presumably HsO4, for which we determine an enthalpy of adsorption on our detector surface that is comparable to the adsorption enthalpy determined under identical conditions for the osmium oxide OsO4. These results provide evidence that the chemical properties of hassium and its lighter homologue osmium are similar, thus confirming that hassium exhibits properties as expected from its position in group 8 of the periodic table.

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Figure 1: Schematic drawing of the IVO-COLD set-up used to produce and isolate Hs isotopes in form of the volatile HsO4.
Figure 2: The seven nuclear decay chains originating from Hs isotopes that were detected in the course of the experiment permit an unambiguous identification of hassium after chemical separation.
Figure 3: Merged thermochromatogram of HsO4 and OsO4.

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We thank the staff of the Laboratory for Micro- and Nanotechnology at PSI for manufacturing the PIN-diode sandwiches for the COLD array and the staff of the GSI UNILAC for providing stable, highly intense beams of 26Mg as well as the target laboratory for Be foils for the vacuum windows. Support from the European Commission Institute for Transuranium Elements, Karlsruhe, for long-term storage of 252Cf and the chemical separation of 248Cm is appreciated. These studies were supported in part by the Swiss National Science Foundation and the Chemical Sciences Division of the Office of Basic Energy Sciences, US Department of Energy.

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Correspondence to H. W. Gäggeler.

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Düllmann, C., Brüchle, W., Dressler, R. et al. Chemical investigation of hassium (element 108). Nature 418, 859–862 (2002).

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