Periodic Table -> Einsteinium


Einsteinium Details

Einsteinium Symbol: Es

Einsteinium Atomic Number: 99

Einsteinium Atomic Weight: (252)

What is Einsteinium?

Einsteinium is a synthetic element (not found in nature) with an atomic number 99 and symbol Es. The element was discovered in 1952 in Berkley, California, by G.G. Harvey, A. Ghiorso, S.G. Thompson, and G.R. Choppin. In fact, einsteinium was discovered through a thermonuclear explosion test, which was conducted in the Pacific. The test took place at Enewetak Atoll on November 1, and it was the first successful hydrogen bomb test. The debris produced from the explosion contained a new isotope of the element plutonium. This isotope was produced through the absorption of 6 neutrons by a nucleus of uranium-238, which was followed by beta decay.

Einsteinium is one of the trans-uranic elements, which are elements with an atomic number higher than 92 (all of them are radioactive). It was aptly named after Albert Einstein. The most common isotope of Es is Es-253, which is generated in several high-power nuclear reactors, albeit in minute quantities. It is very hard to separate Es from the other elements in the reactor synthesis. Einsteinium has a very short half-life (meaning it disintegrates quickly), which is why all it can be used for is basic scientific research. Es is soft and silvery in color. The density and boiling point of the element are unknown. At room temperature, it is solid. It is paramagnetic, which means it is only attracted to an externally applied magnetic field. Chemically, it is found in the +3 and +2 oxidation states, the latter particularly in solids. Einsteinium is very radioactive, making the element dangerous to work with. This fact also makes the study of its chemical and physical properties hard and risky. It quickly converts to berkelium and then californium on a daily basis, which is another obstacle to scientific research.

The density of einsteinium is 8.84 g/cm3, and its melting point is 860 C. Both its density and melting point are relatively low, and the immense radioactivity of einsteinium is what mainly contributes to this fact. The element has a remarkably high volatility.
The metal is also prone to self-radiation and consequently self-depletion, which is why it is sometimes studied under the atmosphere of certain reductant gases so that the sample can in part re-grow as it decomposes.

This metal is also very scarce and prone to self-contamination as a result of the fast conversion to berkelium and then to californium. This is why most of the samples of Es are contaminated, and what we know about its properties is frequently deduced from back data.

Es has nineteen nuclides and three nuclear isomers, the atomic weights of which range from 240 to 258. The nuclide 252Es has the longest half-life of all - 471.7 days, and it is the most stable isotope of einsteinium. Through electron capture, the isotope decays into californium-254 and through alpha decay, it decays into berkelium-248. Through beta decay, it decays into fermium-252.

Einsteinium also has a very high rate of nuclear fission. Nuclear fission is the opposite of nuclear fusion. It is when the nucleus of an atom breaks up into lighter nuclei, thus generating free neutrons and gamma rays, as well as huge amounts of energy.

As mentioned, Es can only be produced synthetically. This is achieved by bombarding lighter actinides in high-capacity nuclear reactors with neutrons.

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