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What is Darmstadtium?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 11 November 2016
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Darmstadtium is a metallic chemical element classified among the transactinide elements on the periodic table of elements, placing it among the heaviest known elements. Like other transactinides, darmstadtium is radioactive and extremely unstable. It is not found in nature, due to its extreme instability, and is instead created synthetically in scientific laboratories. Given that only a few atoms of this element are created at a time, no commercial uses for darmstadtium have been developed.

This element is extremely short-lived, typically decaying into more stable elements within minutes. This makes darmstadtium very difficult to study, as it is challenging to make observations of only a few atoms of an element which exists for a minute, at most. Darmstadtium is believed to be chemically similar to platinum, and it is sometimes known as eka-platinum as a result. It is identified with the symbol Ds on the periodic table of elements, and it has an atomic number of 110.

In addition to being known as a transactinide element, darmstadtium is also classified among the transuranic elements. Transuranic elements are heavy elements with atomic numbers higher than that of uranium. They share a number of chemical traits which make them both interesting and challenging to study.

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This element was identified in 1994 by a team of researchers at the Gesellschaft für Schwerionenforschung, located in Darmstadt, Germany. The team was led by Peter Armbruster and Sigurd Hofmann, and they managed to create element 110 by bombarding a lead isotope with a nickel isotope. After publication of their discovery, the element was temporarily named ununnilium by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) until the team proposed “darmstadtium” as a name for the new element, honoring the site of its discovery; this name was recognized in 2003.

Like other elements which can only be observed by being created synthetically, this element is used only in scientific research. Researchers create darmstadtium atoms in the lab in the hopes of learning more about the element and perhaps discovery more stable isotopes which could be used for further study. Research budgets for working with heavy elements like darmstadtium tend to be very high, as the equipment involved is complex and quite expensive.

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