Transuranium element

Transuranium elements
in the periodic table
Hydrogen Helium
Lithium Beryllium Boron Carbon Nitrogen Oxygen Fluorine Neon
Sodium Magnesium Aluminium Silicon Phosphorus Sulfur Chlorine Argon
Potassium Calcium Scandium Titanium Vanadium Chromium Manganese Iron Cobalt Nickel Copper Zinc Gallium Germanium Arsenic Selenium Bromine Krypton
Rubidium Strontium Yttrium Zirconium Niobium Molybdenum Technetium Ruthenium Rhodium Palladium Silver Cadmium Indium Tin Antimony Tellurium Iodine Xenon
Caesium Barium Lanthanum Cerium Praseodymium Neodymium Promethium Samarium Europium Gadolinium Terbium Dysprosium Holmium Erbium Thulium Ytterbium Lutetium Hafnium Tantalum Tungsten Rhenium Osmium Iridium Platinum Gold Mercury (element) Thallium Lead Bismuth Polonium Astatine Radon
Francium Radium Actinium Thorium Protactinium Uranium Neptunium Plutonium Americium Curium Berkelium Californium Einsteinium Fermium Mendelevium Nobelium Lawrencium Rutherfordium Dubnium Seaborgium Bohrium Hassium Meitnerium Darmstadtium Roentgenium Copernicium Nihonium Flerovium Moscovium Livermorium Tennessine Oganesson
Z > 92 (U)

The transuranium elements (also known as transuranic elements) are the chemical elements with atomic numbers greater than 92, which is the atomic number of uranium. All of these elements are synthetic, unstable and decay radioactively into other elements.


Periodic table with elements colored according to the half-life of their most stable isotope.
  Elements which contain at least one stable isotope.
  Slightly radioactive elements: the most stable isotope is very long-lived, with a half-life of over two million years.
  Significantly radioactive elements: the most stable isotope has half-life between 800 and 34,000 years.
  Radioactive elements: the most stable isotope has half-life between one day and 130 years.
  Highly radioactive elements: the most stable isotope has half-life between several minutes and one day.
  Extremely radioactive elements: the most stable isotope has half-life less than several minutes.

Of the elements with atomic numbers 1 to 92, most can be found in nature, having stable isotopes (such as hydrogen) or very long-lived radioisotopes (such as uranium), or existing as common decay products of the decay of uranium and thorium (such as radon). The exceptions are elements 43, 61, 85, and 87; all four occur in nature, but only in very minor branches of the uranium and thorium decay chains, and thus all save element 87 were first discovered by synthesis in the laboratory rather than in nature (and even element 87 was discovered from purified samples of its parent, not directly from nature).

All the elements with higher atomic numbers have been first discovered in the laboratory, with neptunium and plutonium later also discovered in nature. They are all radioactive, with a half-life much shorter than the age of the Earth, so any primordial atoms of these elements, if they ever were present at the Earth's formation, have long since decayed. Trace amounts of neptunium and plutonium form in some uranium-rich rock, and small amounts are produced during atmospheric tests of nuclear weapons. These two elements are generated from neutron capture in uranium ore with subsequent beta decays (e.g. 238U + n239U239Np239Pu).

All elements heavier than plutonium are entirely synthetic; they are created in nuclear reactors or particle accelerators. The half lives of these elements show a general trend of decreasing as atomic numbers increase. There are exceptions, however, including several isotopes of curium and dubnium. Some heavier elements in this series, around atomic numbers 110–114, are thought to break the trend and demonstrate increased nuclear stability, comprising the theoretical island of stability.[1]

Heavy transuranic elements are difficult and expensive to produce, and their prices increase rapidly with atomic number. As of 2008, the cost of weapons-grade plutonium was around $4,000/gram,[2] and californium exceeded $60,000,000/gram.[3] Einsteinium is the heaviest element that has been produced in macroscopic quantities.[4]

Transuranic elements that have not been discovered, or have been discovered but are not yet officially named, use IUPAC's systematic element names. The naming of transuranic elements may be a source of controversy.

Discovery and naming of transuranium elementsEdit

So far, essentially all the transuranium elements have been discovered at four laboratories: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in the United States (elements 93–101, 106, and joint credit for 103–105), the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Russia (elements 102 and 114–118, and joint credit for 103–105), the GSI Helmholtz Centre for Heavy Ion Research in Germany (elements 107–112), and RIKEN in Japan (element 113).

Superheavy elementsEdit

Position of the transactinide elements in the periodic table.

Superheavy elements, (also known as superheavy atoms, commonly abbreviated SHE) usually refer to the transactinide elements beginning with rutherfordium (atomic number 104). They have only been made artificially, and currently serve no practical purpose because their short half-lives cause them to decay after a very short time, ranging from a few minutes to just a few milliseconds (except for dubnium, which has a half life of over a day), which also makes them extremely hard to study.[5][6]

Superheavy atoms have all been created since the latter half of the 20th century, and are continually being created during the 21st century as technology advances. They are created through the bombardment of elements in a particle accelerator. For example, the nuclear fusion of californium-249 and carbon-12 creates rutherfordium-261. These elements are created in quantities on the atomic scale and no method of mass creation has been found.[5]


Transuranium elements may be utilized to synthesize other superheavy elements.[7] Elements of the island of stability have potentially important military applications, including the development of compact nuclear weapons.[8] The potential everyday applications are vast; the element americium is utilized in devices such as smoke detectors and spectrometers.[9][10]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Pluto was a planet at the time of naming, but has since been reclassified as a dwarf planet.
  1. ^ Considine, Glenn, ed. (2002). Van Nostrand's Scientific Encyclopedia (9th ed.). New York: Wiley Interscience. p. 738. ISBN 978-0-471-33230-5.
  2. ^ Morel, Andrew (2008). Elert, Glenn (ed.). "Price of Plutonium". The Physics Factbook. Archived from the original on 20 October 2018.
  3. ^ Martin, Rodger C.; Kos, Steve E. (2001). Applications and Availability of Californium-252 Neutron Sources for Waste Characterization (Report). CiteSeerX
  4. ^ Silva, Robert J. (2006). "Fermium, Mendelevium, Nobelium and Lawrencium". In Morss, Lester R.; Edelstein, Norman M.; Fuger, Jean (eds.). The Chemistry of the Actinide and Transactinide Elements (Third ed.). Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Springer Science+Business Media. ISBN 978-1-4020-3555-5.
  5. ^ a b Heenen, Paul-Henri; Nazarewicz, Witold (2002). "Quest for superheavy nuclei" (PDF). Europhysics News. 33 (1): 5–9. Bibcode:2002ENews..33....5H. doi:10.1051/epn:2002102. Archived (PDF) from the original on 20 July 2018.
  6. ^ Greenwood, Norman N. (1997). "Recent developments concerning the discovery of elements 100–111" (PDF). Pure and Applied Chemistry. 69 (1): 179–184. doi:10.1351/pac199769010179. S2CID 98322292. Archived (PDF) from the original on 21 July 2018.
  7. ^ Lougheed, R. W.; et al. (1985). "Search for superheavy elements using 48Ca + 254Esg reaction". Physical Review C. 32 (5): 1760–1763. Bibcode:1985PhRvC..32.1760L. doi:10.1103/PhysRevC.32.1760. PMID 9953034.
  8. ^ Gsponer, André; Hurni, Jean-Pierre (1997). The Physical Principles of Thermonuclear Explosives, Intertial Confinement Fusion, and the Quest for Fourth Generation Nuclear Weapons (PDF). International Network of Engineers and Scientists Against Proliferation. pp. 110–115. ISBN 978-3-933071-02-6. Archived (PDF) from the original on 6 June 2018.
  9. ^ "Smoke Detectors and Americium", Nuclear Issues Briefing Paper, vol. 35, May 2002, archived from the original on 11 September 2002, retrieved 2015-08-26
  10. ^ Nuclear Data Viewer 2.4, NNDC

Further readingEdit