Chemical Properties of Transactinides

The structure of the periodic table was conceived to reflect chemical similarities among elements within a given group. As new elements get discovered, they enter the periodic table based on their atomic number and accordingly find their place based on the number of protons in their nucleus, and hence the number of electrons in their atomic shell. Our group studies chemical properties of these new elements to elucidate if these resemble the known properties of their lighter homologs. All elements up to hassium (element 108) have been studied chemically and were shown to roughly conform to the structure of the periodic table as established by the lighter elements. Details of the measured behavior were often only understandable once special aspects of such heavy elements were taken into account – for example the influence of relativistic effects due to the high nuclear charge of superheavy nuclei.

One current research focus is on the study of the volatility and reactivity of elements beyond copernicium, which is the heaviest element the chemistry of which was reproducibly studied. Another focus is on studies of molecular properties of elements around seaborgium. This element was shown to form a volatile carbonyl compound, similar to its lighter homologs. Currently, technical developments to improve the yield of such studies are being implemented, aiming at the study of carbonyl compounds of elements beyond seaborgium.