Periodic Table -> Copernicium
Copernicium DetailsCopernicium Symbol:
CnCopernicium Atomic Number:
112Copernicium Atomic Weight:
(285.17)What is Copernicium?
(atomic number 112, symbol Cn) is a manmade element that was synthesized in 1996 by the German physicist Sigurd Hofmann and the Bulgarian researcher Victor Ninov who also made contributions to the discovery of Roentgenium and Darmstadtium.
Properties, Structure, and Known Isotopes
This is a very radioactive element that is only synthesized in controlled settings. Some of its properties have been studied while others are still unknown. The short half life of the element makes it difficult to study its properties. It is expected that Copernicium exhibits properties similar to radon. The element's oxidation states and ionization energy are unknown. With an atomic weight of 285, this is a d-block element with a density of 23.7 grams per cubic centimeter. Copernicium is a transition metal which is predicted to have 4 oxidation states – 0, 1, 2, and 4. It is produced through the reaction of two isotopes, lead-208 and zinc-70. While the element has no stable isotopes, a number of isotopes have been identified and studied in research settings, among which Cn-283, Cn-282, Cn-281, Cn-280, and others. Cn-285 is the most stable isotope and was discovered in 1999. It has a half life of 29 seconds and decays into Ds-281. It has been predicted that Cn-285b has a half life of 8.9 minutes. Atoms of Cn-284 and Cn-281 have been detected as decay products of another element – Flerovium. Researchers also predict that Copernicium would exhibit the properties of a noble gas element. It has a hexagonal close-packed structure and is isolated through different nuclear reactions. Copernicium is solid at room temperature and has a high atomic weight. It is expected to be unreactive and was created through fusion experiments. This is a volatile element which is hard to oxidize. It is the heaviest of all elements and it is over 200 times heavier than H.
Discovery and Naming
The element was first synthesized at the Helmholtz Centre for Heavy Ion Research by bombarding Pb-208 with Zn-70. A heavy iron accelerator was used to create copercinium. The researchers also discovered the elements Darmstadtium, Roentgenium, Meitnerium, Bohrium, and Hassium. The team is now looking for another element – element 120.
A single atom of Cn-277 was synthesized with a very short half life of 0.24 milliseconds. Because of its short half life, advanced computerized equipment is required to detect and prove its existence. The element was named after the famous mathematician and astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus in 2009, and the name was confirmed by IUPAC. The symbol Cp was proposed at first but it was ultimately rejected. The reason is that Cp was used for another element, the metal lutetium until 1949. For over a decade, Cn was simply called element 112.
Applications and Biological Role
This element has no applications because it is very unstable. It is only used in experimental chemistry and basic scientific research. Copernicium has no known biological role. While it is highly radioactive and harmful, only 75 atoms have been isolated so far.
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