The 14th International Conference on

Miniaturized Systems for Chemistry and Life Sciences

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Extended periodic table


Extended periodic table

An extended periodic table theorizes about chemical elements beyond those currently known in the periodic table and proven up through oganesson, which completes the seventh period (row) in the periodic table at atomic number (Z) 118.

According to the orbital approximation in quantum mechanical descriptions of atomic structure, the g-block would correspond to elements with partially filled g-orbitals, but spin-orbit coupling effects reduce the validity of the orbital approximation substantially for elements of high atomic number. While Seaborg's version of the extended period had the heavier elements following the pattern set by lighter elements, as it did not take into account relativistic effects, models that take relativistic effects into account do not. Pekka Pyykko and Burkhard Fricke used computer modeling to calculate the positions of elements up to Z = 172, and found that several were displaced from the Madelung rule. As a result of uncertainty and variability in predictions of chemical and physical properties of elements beyond 120, there is currently no consensus on their placement in the extended periodic table.

The first predictions on properties of undiscovered superheavy elements were made in 1957, when the concept of nuclear shells was first explored and an island of stability was theorized to exist around element 126. In 1967, more rigorous calculations were performed, and the island of stability was theorized to be centered at the then-undiscovered flerovium (element 114); this and other subsequent studies motivated many researchers to search for superheavy elements in nature or attempt to synthesize them at accelerators. Many searches for superheavy elements were conducted in the 1970s, all with negative results. As of December 2018, synthesis has been attempted for every element up to and including unbiseptium (Z = 127), except unbitrium (Z = 123), with the heaviest successfully synthesized element being oganesson in 2002 and the most recent discovery being that of tennessine in 2010.

In particular, the reaction between 170Er and 136Xe was expected to yield alpha-emitters with half-lives of microseconds that would decay down to isotopes of flerovium with half-lives perhaps increasing up to several hours, as flerovium is predicted to lie near the center of the island of stability. After twelve hours of irradiation, nothing was found in this reaction. Following a similar unsuccessful attempt to synthesize unbiunium from 238U and 65Cu, it was concluded that half-lives of superheavy nuclei must be less than one microsecond or the cross sections are very small. More recent research into synthesis of superheavy elements suggests that both conclusions are true. The two attempts in the 1970s to synthesize unbibium were both propelled by the research investigating whether superheavy elements could potentially be naturally occurring.

Similarly to previous experiments conducted at the JINR (Joint Institute for Nuclear Research), fission fragments clustered around doubly magic nuclei such as 132Sn (Z = 50, N = 82), revealing a tendency for superheavy nuclei to expel such doubly magic nuclei in fission. The average number of neutrons per fission from the 312124 compound nucleus (relative to lighter systems) was also found to increase, confirming that the trend of heavier nuclei emitting more neutrons during fission continues into the superheavy mass region.

The possible extent of primordial superheavy elements on Earth today is uncertain. Even if they are confirmed to have caused the radiation damage long ago, they might now have decayed to mere traces, or even be completely gone. It is also uncertain if such superheavy nuclei may be produced naturally at all, as spontaneous fission is expected to terminate the r-process responsible for heavy element formation between mass number 270 and 290, well before elements heavier than unbinilium may be formed.

Similarly to the lanthanide and actinide contractions, there should be a superactinide contraction in the superactinide series where the ionic radii of the superactinides are smaller than expected. In the lanthanides, the contraction is about 4.4 pm per element; in the actinides, it is about 3 pm per element. The contraction is larger in the lanthanides than in the actinides due to the greater localization of the 4f wave function as compared to the 5f wave function. Comparisons with the wave functions of the outer electrons of the lanthanides, actinides, and superactinides lead to a prediction of a contraction of about 2 pm per element in the superactinides; although this is smaller than the contractions in the lanthanides and actinides, its total effect is larger due to the fact that 32 electrons are filled in the deeply buried 5g and 6f shells, instead of just 14 electrons being filled in the 4f and 5f shells in the lanthanides and actinides respectively.

The noble metals of this series of transition metals are not expected to be as noble as their lighter homologues, due to the absence of an outer s shell for shielding and also because the 7d shell is strongly split into two subshells due to relativistic effects. This causes the first ionization energies of the 7d transition metals to be smaller than those of their lighter congeners.

The number of physically possible elements is unknown. A low estimate is that the periodic table may end soon after the island of stability, which is expected to center on Z = 126, as the extension of the periodic and nuclides tables is restricted by the proton and the neutron drip lines and stability toward alpha decay and spontaneous fission. One calculation by Y. Gambhir et al., analyzing nuclear binding energy and stability in various decay channels, suggests a limit to the existence of bound nuclei at Z = 146. Some, such as Walter Greiner, predicted that there may not be an end to the periodic table. Other predictions of an end to the periodic table include Z = 128 (John Emsley) and Z = 155 (Albert Khazan).


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