Copernicium

What is Copernicium?

Copernicium is a chemical element with the atomic number 112 and symbol Cn. It is a synthetic element which is extremely radioactive. This element belongs to the d-block, 7th period and group 12 in the periodic table of elements. It remains in the gas state at standard temperature and pressure. The electronic configuration of this radioactive chemical element is [Rn] 5f14 6d107s2. All the known isotopes of this element are radioactive and have very short half-lives. The atomic mass of Cn element is 285. The basic information of copernicium is as follows. 

Name of the Element

Copernicium

Symbol

Cn

Group 

12

Period

7

Block

D

State at standard temperature and pressure

Gas or volatile liquid

Electronic configuration

[Rn] 5f14 6d107s2

Atomic weight

285


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The above image shows the position of copernicium in the periodic table of elements.


Discovery

Copernicium was first synthesized at the Gesellschaft für Schwerionenforschung (GSI) in Darmstadt, Germany. Sigurd Hofmann and Victor Ninov et al. first produced this chemical element on February 9, 1996. The production of this element took place in a heavy-ion accelerator by firing accelerated nuclei of zinc-70 at a destination created with lead-208 nuclei. This process leads to the formation of a single atom of copernicium which has a mass number of 277.

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In May 2000, the scientists repeated the same process for producing the further atom of copernicium with mass number 277. Scientists at Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Dubna, Russia also attempted to create 276Cn in 1971, but their team didn't get success. In 2004 and 2013, scientists at RIKEN repeated the same experiment of GSI scientists to produce three atoms of copernicium. 

The IUPAC/IUPAP Joint Working Party (JWP) rejected that the GSI team had discovered copernicium's discovery in 2001 and 2003. They said that the team was not able to provide sufficient evidence for the discovery. After a detailed study, JWP finally gave the proper credit to the GSI team for the detection of this chemical element. 


Naming 

Before the official discovery of the copernicium, people knew it by the name eka-mercury. The IUPAC recommended calling Cn as ununbium before its formal discovery. However, most of the scientist in the world prefer calling it Element 112. After recognizing the claim of the GSI team by IUPAC, they asked the discoverers to suggest a name. On July 14 2009, the team proposed the name copernicium in honour of Nicolaus Copernicus. On February 19 2010, the IUPAC finally accepted the proposal given by the GSI team for naming element 112 as copernicium. 


Occurrence

Cn is an artificially produced element which is not present in nature. It is because all the isotopes of this chemical element decay very quickly, very short half-lives. Hence, it is not possible that any primordial copernicium could have survived from the beginning of this universe up to now. However, it doesn't mean that no isotopes of this chemical element have longer half-lives. Scientists are making continuous efforts to study this element in more detail. 


Properties of Copernicium

The expensive and limited production of copernicium doesn't allow scientists to study all the characteristics of Cn in detail. Moreover, it decays very quickly, which prevents scientists from measuring their properties accurately. Hence, only predictions are available when it comes to the detailed characteristics of copernicium. Cn is the heaviest member of the group 12 and is the last member of the 6d series in the periodic table of elements. According to the predictions, Cn must be a dense metal which remains in a liquid state at a temperature of 300 K. 

The predicted density of copernicium is 14.0 g/cm3, which is similar to that of mercury. Many experiments predicted that this metal must remain in the gas state at room temperature. Hence, it may be the first gaseous metal known today. The electronic configuration of Cn is 5f14 6d107s2 because of the relative de-stabilization of the 6d orbital and stabilization of the 7s orbital in the copernicium atom. Hence, ions of this element, like Cn+ and Cn2, must give 6d electrons instead of 7s electrons. According to the predictions, the metallic bonds of this chemical element are also weak. Hence, it can be remarkably volatile similar to noble gases. 

The predicted atomic radius of copernicium is around 147pm. In 2007, some scientists predicted that copernicium must be a semiconductor with the energy gap of 0.2eV. However, the calculations made in 2017 found that it is a noble metal and have no energy gap like mercury. The estimated melting point and boiling point of this radioactive chemical element is 283±11 K and 340±10 K, respectively.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. Which Are The Known Isotopes Of Copernicium?

Scientists are not able to find any naturally occurring or stable isotopes of Cn element till now. All the known isotopes of this chemical element are synthetic and unstable. Scientists made them either by the decay of heavier elements or fusion of two atoms. Currently, there are seven known isotopes of Cn with mass number 281-286 and 277. However, the isotope with mass number 285 is still unconfirmed. Most of the isotopes of Cn decay through alpha decay process but some decays through spontaneous fission as well. The isotope copernicium-283 was beneficial in the discovery of many elements, including livermorium and flerovium. 

2.  What Are The Current Uses And Applications Of Copernicium?

Copernicium is a metal that remains in gaseous form at the room temperature. However, the life of this element is too short as compared to other elements or transition metals. Moreover, it is not easy to produce, and the production of this element is also much expensive. Hence, currently, it has no uses for the common man. Scientists only use this metal to conduct some researches. Cn element is also beneficial for the discovery of some chemical elements like flerovium and livermorium.