Technetium: the essentials

Since its discovery, searches for the element technetium in terrestrial materials have been made without success. Technetium has been found in the spectrum of S-, M-, and N-type stars, and its presence in stellar matter is leading to new theories of the production of heavy elements in the stars.

Technetium is a silvery-grey metal that tarnishes slowly in moist air. Until 1960, technetium was available only in small amounts. The chemistry of technetium is related to that of rhenium.

Table: basic information about and classifications of technetium.

Technetium: historical information

Technetium was discovered by Carlo Perrier, Emilio Segre at 1937 in Italy. Origin of name: from the Greek word "technikos" meaning "artificial".

Element 43 (technetium) was predicted on the basis of the periodic table by Mendeleev. He suggested that it should be very similar to manganese and gave it the name ekamanganese. Technetium was erroneously reported as having been discovered in 1925, at which time it was named masurium. The element was actually discovered by C. Perrier and Emilio Gino Segre in Italy in 1937. It was found in a sample of molybdenum bombarded by deuterons. Technetium was the first element to be produced artificially and all its isotopes are radioactive. It is named after the Greek technetos, artificial.

Technetium: physical properties

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Technetium: orbital properties

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Isolation: it is never necessary to make a sample of techntium anywhere other than specialist laboratories. This is because technetium is radioactive. Technetium is a byproduct of the nuclear industry and is a product of uranium decay. Alternatively it can be made by the bombardment of molydenum targets with deuterium nuclei.

Because of the scale of the nuclear industry it is possible to make quite large quantities of technetium (kilograms). The metal itself may be made by the reaction of the sulphide Tc2S7 with hydrogen at 1100°C or of the pertechnate NH4TcO4 with hydrogen.

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