APR 17, 2015 7:37 AM PDT

New Data on Element Trigger Rethink of Periodic Table

WRITTEN BY: Will Hector
A little-known element called californium is making big waves in how scientists look at the periodic table.

According to new research by a Florida State University professor, californium is what's known to be a transitional element, meaning it links one part of the Periodic Table of Elements to the next. Why is that important?
Controversy remains over where the radioactive element lawrencium (and lutetium) should be in the periodic table: in the d-block or f-block.
Despite the fact that you may have memorized the periodic table in high school chemistry, there is actually very little known about the elements at the very end of the table. But, these elements are some of the heaviest and least understood chemical elements on the planet and information about them may prove crucial in the future as we look at how to store or recycle used nuclear fuel, among other things.

So learning what californium can or cannot do is a pretty big deal.

In a new Nature Communications paper, Professor Thomas Albrecht-Schmitt found that californium is an element that helps link one part of the periodic table to the next.

It has properties included in the three elements before it on the table -- americium, curium and berkelium -- and also the three elements after it -- einsteinium, fermium and mendelevium. It gives the element unique capabilities that make it ripe for further research.

"This really changes how we think about the periodic table," Albrecht-Schmitt said. "It's important because we understand very little about these heavy elements. Governments and universities invest a lot of resources -- financial, time and intellectual -- into learning more about these elements."
Getting a piece of californium is no easy task though.

After years of negotiating with the U.S. Department of Energy, Albrecht-Schmitt obtained 5 milligrams of californium through an endowment to the university in honor of retired Professor Gregory Choppin.

Those 5 milligrams have been the subject of multiple experiments, including several last year that led to Albrecht-Schmitt's team discovering that californium had the ability to bond with and separate other materials.
This new round of experiments took almost two years to complete.

All the experiments were conducted at Florida State, but Albrecht-Schmitt worked with theorists and scientists from several other institutions including Oak Ridge National Laboratory, which supplied the californium, and the Florida State-based National High-Field Magnet Laboratory.

(Sources: Florida State University; Science Daily)
About the Author
  • Will Hector practices psychotherapy at Heart in Balance Counseling Center in Oakland, California. He has substantial training in Attachment Theory, Hakomi Body-Centered Psychotherapy, Psycho-Physical Therapy, and Formative Psychology. To learn more about his practice, click here: http://www.heartinbalancetherapy.com/will-hector.html
You May Also Like
AUG 18, 2021
Space & Astronomy
The Size of Black Holes Depends on their Feeding Patterns
AUG 18, 2021
The Size of Black Holes Depends on their Feeding Patterns
The feeding patterns of black holes are directly correlated to their size. The corresponding study was published in  ...
AUG 19, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Researchers Observe the Birth of New Solar Systems
AUG 19, 2021
Researchers Observe the Birth of New Solar Systems
Astronomers are gaining new insights on how our solar system was born from observations of a nearby star-forming region ...
AUG 19, 2021
Chemistry & Physics
A "Wright Brothers Moment" for Nuclear Fusion
AUG 19, 2021
A "Wright Brothers Moment" for Nuclear Fusion
According to a Wednesday press release, physicists at the National Ignition Facility (NIF), part of Lawrence Livermore N ...
AUG 25, 2021
Chemistry & Physics
Self-Assembling Molecules: A Potential "One-Size-Fits-All" Cancer Therapy
AUG 25, 2021
Self-Assembling Molecules: A Potential "One-Size-Fits-All" Cancer Therapy
A new study from the University of Huddersfield shows promising breakthroughs on the use of self-assembling molecules as ...
SEP 06, 2021
Chemistry & Physics
NASA's James Webb Space Telescope is Ready for Space!
SEP 06, 2021
NASA's James Webb Space Telescope is Ready for Space!
With a long set of rigorous tests behind it, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), NASA’s next major space telesc ...
SEP 09, 2021
Earth & The Environment
A Win for Environmental Conservationists: Maine Bans Forever Chemicals
SEP 09, 2021
A Win for Environmental Conservationists: Maine Bans Forever Chemicals
The state of Maine took a massive step in environmental conservation on July 15, 2021, and banned the sale of products c ...
Loading Comments...