Periodic Table -> Rutherfordium


Rutherfordium Details

Rutherfordium Symbol: Rf

Rutherfordium Atomic Number: 104

Rutherfordium Atomic Weight: (267)

What is Rutherfordium?

Rutherfordium (atomic number 104, symbol Rf) with temporary name Unnilquadium - Unq, is a synthetic chemical element i.e. it is synthesised, not found naturally.

Chemical and Physical Properties
Rutherfordium or unnilquadium has an atomic number of 104 and atomic weight of 267. The element is highly radioactive and artificially generated. The element's initial (and officially recognised name) honours the scientist Ernest Rutherford). Unnilquadium's most stable isotope - 267 Rf has a half-life of about one point three hours. Although the chemical properties of unnilquadium are still unknown, scientists believe this metal would work well with other elements of Group 4 in the periodic table. Group 4 includes elements such as hafnium, zirconium, titanium, and others. Unnilquadium’s melting and boiling points are still unknown to researchers, so is its density. At room temperature, Unq is in a solid state. The element has a hexagonal close-packed structure, and common oxidation states include 2, 3, and 4.

The discovery of Rutherfordium follows the same beaten path of other chemical element discoveries of the 60s and 70s - namely a dispute between the scientific communities of the USSR and USA. And of course, the controversy over the element's name. Almost simultaneously, in the 60s Unnilquadium was discovered by both an American and Russian scientist at each country’s respective institutes – the Joint Institute of Nuclear Research in Dubna, Russia and the University of California, USA.
The American discovery was independently confirmed in 1973, while the Russian team was criticized for altering and amending their findings in the course of the dispute in order to make research data more credible. Interestingly enough, the Russian science team leader did not deny this.

The American science community supported the name Rutherfordium for element 104 while the Russian science community suggested the element be named Kurchatovium. The IUPAC working group tasked with settling such disputes in the name of greater science announced that both parties did actually present valid evidence of discovering element 104 at pretty much the same time, and decided that both sides should be credited for the discovery of Unnilquadium. The Americans weren’t too happy about IUPAC’s official decision and insisted the Russians altered their findings for over twenty years. In response, IUPAC said they did everything necessary to confirm the discovery of element 104, and that their competence and unbiased decision making was not at stake, or in any way compromised by the claims coming from the American science group. However, IUPAC eventually decided to name element 104 Rutherfordium which does indicate a possible change of opinion. IUPAC officially stuck to the name Unnilquadium – the name derived from the Latin names of the digits 1, 0 and 4.

Uses and Applications
Since there are only small amounts of Rutherfordium produced, and because of its super short half-life, the element cannot really be used for anything other than basic in-lab research. The element decomposes quickly and is not considered a health or environmental hazard.

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