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Mendelevium Facts

Mendelevium Facts

A compilation of some facts about mendelevium, intended to shed light on this rare synthetic element which happens to be one of the least-known components of the periodic table.
Abhijit Naik
The chances of you having come across the term 'mendelevium' are pretty rare, especially if chemistry is not your favorite subject. Basically, mendelevium is one of the 15 chemical elements that form the actinide or actinoid series of the periodic table. Most of what we know about it, is based on assumptions owing to its rare nature. For instance, it is difficult to determine the appearance of this element and therefore, it is assumed that it is either silver or white in color.
Interesting Facts about Mendelevium
Mendelevium is not a naturally occurring chemical element and the process of synthesizing it is quite expensive and time-consuming. It has only been produced in trace amounts as of now, which explains why we have such little information about it. While some researchers have shown that it is moderately stable in the oxidation state, the data available is limited and research is going on.
Physical and Chemical Properties
Mendelevium is a synthetic element (i.e., a chemical element which is too unstable to occur naturally on the Earth), which is synthesized by bombarding einsteinium with alpha particles. It is a metallic, radioactive, transuranic element with the symbol 'Md' and atomic number '101'. Its atomic weight is (258)g·mol-1 and melting point is 1521°F.
Other information about it, like its boiling point or density, is unknown as of now. Of the discovered isotopes of mendelevium, almost all range between 248 to 258 mass numbers, and have half-lives ranging between a few seconds to approximately 51 days. All these isotopes are radioactive; 258Md being the most stable of them all, with a half-life of around 55 days. More importantly, it has no known compounds.
Who Discovered this Element?
Mendelevium was synthesized for the first time by a team of scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1955. The team was headed by Stanley G. Thompson, and included stalwarts like Albert Ghiorso, Glenn T. Seaborg, Gregory R. Choppin, and Bernard G. Harvey. It was the 9th transuranic element which was synthesized in this process. It was named after Dmitri Ivanovich Mendeleev, the Russian chemist and inventor who developed the periodic table.
The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) gave a green signal for the name, but refused to accept the 'Mv' symbol proposed by the scientists. Instead, IUPAC went ahead with Md as the symbol for this element.
Uses of Mendelevium
As far as its uses are concerned, there are none except for its use in basic scientific research. The expenses incurred and time consumed in synthesizing it, and its short lifespan restrict the amount of mendelevium which can be synthesized. The little amount of mendelevium that is produced is used in the field of research, owing to which its commercial uses have not yet been developed.
Additionally, you also need to know that it is known for its radioactivity, owing to which it is potentially harmful for human health. However, it is not a naturally occurring element and is produced in limited amount, which reduces the chances of people coming in direct contact with it. Owing to this, it is not considered as harmful as other radioactive elements of the periodic table.