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
When fat cells change their colour
28.10.2016 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau
Aquaculture: Clear Water Thanks to Cork
28.10.2016 | Technologie Lizenz-Büro (TLB) der Baden-Württembergischen Hochschulen GmbH
Physicists from the University of Würzburg have designed a light source that emits photon pairs. Two-photon sources are particularly well suited for tap-proof data encryption. The experiment's key ingredients: a semiconductor crystal and some sticky tape.
So-called monolayers are at the heart of the research activities. These "super materials" (as the prestigious science magazine "Nature" puts it) have been...
Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.
This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...
Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion
Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...
Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.
"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...
In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.
A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...
14.10.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
12.10.2016 | Event News
28.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering
28.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy
28.10.2016 | Life Sciences