Placed quite down in the periodic table with the atomic number 99, Einsteinium is the seventh transuranic element. Named after world-renowned physicist Albert Einstein, the properties of one of the heaviest elements, einsteinium, have not been understood clearly so far.
But that has now changed as the researchers from California’s Berkeley National Laboratory have come up with solutions to overcome this problem. Led by chemist Rebecca Abergel, the team at Tennessee’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory used High Flux Isotope Reactor to first synthesize a 250 nanogram sample of the isotope einsteinium-254. They synthesized it by bombarding neutrons at the curium targets. Thistriggered radioactive decay chains.
As reported by Physics World, these researchers initially faced failure while synthesizing einsteinium. They could not use the sample for X-ray crystallography studies as it was found to be contaminated with the element 98 californium. Radioactive decay was happening in their sample while there were delays due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
According to the report, they combined einsteinium to ligands which are organic molecules. The combination acted as luminescent antennae. At Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, they 3D printed a specialised holder which was used to hold the sample. The researchers at the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource, California carried out the X-ray absorption spectroscopy in order to analyse the sample.
As a result, researchers have been able to determine the bond distance of einsteinium. They have also been able to observe that the einsteinium’s physical chemistry does not follow the trends of the actinide series which includes elements such as Actinium, Uranium, Californium among others.
Einsteinium’s bond distance would help the researchers in understanding how the metallic bonds bind to molecules. On the other hand, knowing new aspects of einsteinium’s physical chemistry can promote research in understanding how it can be used in different areas.
Published in the reputed, peer-reviewed journal Nature on February 3, 2021, the study enables researchers to predict how the processes will occur if atomic nuclei are bombarded on einsteinium and other elements of the actinide series.