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Chemistry of Astatine (Z=85)

Astatine formerly known as alabamine. It has no stable isotopes and was first synthetically produced (1940) at the University of California.

Name: Astatine
Symbol: At
Atomic Number: 85
Atomic Mass: (210.0) amu
Melting Point: 302.0 °C (575.15 K, 575.6 °F)
Boiling Point: 337.0 °C (610.15 K, 638.6 °F)
Number of Protons/Electrons: 85
Number of Neutrons: 125
Classification: Halogen
Crystal Structure: Unknown
Density @ 293 K: Unknown
Color: Unknown
Date of Discovery: 1940
Discoverer: D.R. Corson
Name Origin: From the Greek word astatos (unstable)
Uses: No uses known
Obtained From: Man-made
Oxidation Number: -1, +5

Astatine is the last of the known halogens and was synthesized in 1940 by Corson and others at the University of California. It is radioactive and its name, from the Greek astatos, means "unstable". The element can be produced by bombarding targets made of bismuth-209 with high energy alpha particles (helium nuclei). Astatine 211 is the product and has a half-life of 7.2 hours. The most stable isotope of astatine is 210 which has a half-life of 8.1 hours.

Not much is known about the chemical properties of astatine but it is expected to react like the other halogens, although much less vigorously, and it should be more metallic than iodine. There should be tiny quantities of astatine in the earth's crust as products of other radioactive decays, but their existence would be short-lived.


Stephen R. Marsden (ChemTopics)