Discoveries at the Edge of the Periodic Table: First Ever Measurements of Einsteinium
Berkeley Lab scientists Leticia Arnedo-Sanchez (from left), Katherine Shield, Korey Carter, and Jennifer Wacker had to take precautions against radioactivity as well as coronavirus to conduct experiments with the rare element, einsteinium. (Credit: Marilyn Sargent/Berkeley Lab)
Since element 99 – einsteinium – was discovered in 1952 at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) from the debris of the first hydrogen bomb, scientists have performed very few experiments with it because it is so hard to create and is exceptionally radioactive. A team of Berkeley Lab chemists has overcome these obstacles to report the first study characterizing some of its properties, opening the door to a better understanding of the remaining transuranic elements of the actinide series.
Published in the journal Nature, the study, “Structural and Spectroscopic Characterization of an Einsteinium Complex(link is external),” was co-led by Berkeley Lab scientist Rebecca Abergel (link is external)(Ph.D. Chem, '06) and Los Alamos National Laboratory scientist Stosh Kozimor, and included scientists from the two laboratories, UC Berkeley, and Georgetown University, several of whom are graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. With less than 250 nanograms of the element, the team measured the first-ever einsteinium bond distance, a basic property of an element’s interactions with other atoms and molecules.