A little-known element called californium is making big waves in how scientists look at the periodic table.
According to new research by a Florida State University professor, californium is what’s known to be a transitional element, meaning it links one part of the Periodic Table of Elements to the next.
Why’s that important?
Despite the fact that you may have memorized the periodic table in high school chemistry, there is actually very little known about the elements at the very end of the table. But, these elements are some of the heaviest and least understood chemical elements on the planet and information about them may prove crucial in the future as we look at how to store or recycle used nuclear fuel, among other things.
So learning what californium can or cannot do is a pretty big deal.
In a new Nature Communications paper, Professor Thomas Albrecht-Schmitt found that californium is an element that helps link one part of the periodic table to the next.
It has properties included in the three elements before it on the table — americium, curium and berkelium — and also the three elements after it — einsteinium, fermium and mendelevium. It gives the element unique capabilities that make it ripe for further research.
“This really changes how we think about the periodic table,” Albrecht-Schmitt said. “It’s important because we understand very little about these heavy elements. Governments and universities invest a lot of resources — financial, time and intellectual — into learning more about these elements.”
Getting a piece of californium is no easy task though.
After years of negotiating with the U.S. Department of Energy, Albrecht-Schmitt obtained 5 milligrams of californium through an endowment to the university in honor of retired Professor Gregory Choppin.
Those 5 milligrams have been the subject of multiple experiments, including several last year that led to Albrecht-Schmitt’s team discovering that californium had the ability to bond with and separate other materials.
This new round of experiments took almost two years to complete.
All the experiments were conducted at Florida State, but Albrecht-Schmitt worked with theorists and scientists from several other institutions including Oak Ridge National Laboratory, which supplied the californium, and the Florida State-based National High-Field Magnet Laboratory.
Other institutions contributing to the research are the University of Alabama and Argonne National Laboratory.
Research Media & Content Specialist
Kathleen Haughney | newswise
Researchers uncover protein-based “cancer signature”
05.12.2016 | Universität Basel
The Nagoya Protocol Creates Disadvantages for Many Countries when Applied to Microorganisms
05.12.2016 | Leibniz-Institut DSMZ-Deutsche Sammlung von Mikroorganismen und Zellkulturen GmbH
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water
In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
05.12.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering
05.12.2016 | Materials Sciences
05.12.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering