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Hassium: Uses, Facts & Properties

Instructor: Kimberly Uptmor

Kimberly has a bachelor's degree in Secondary Education: Science and has master's in Curriculum and Instruction. Currently, she teaches 7th grade through college level classes.

Discovered in the late 1980s as one of the missing elements, hassium is a transition metal as well as a man-made element. This lesson explains the properties and uses of hassium.

The Honor of Discovering an Element

It is possible for dreams to come true, especially if you keep working at that dream. It was once believed that the missing larger elements of the periodic table were impossible to discover in nature because they no longer existed. After discovering how to make elements within the laboratory, it was a dream for many of the scientists to be the first to discover and name an element. This included the element hassium.

Hassium was made in Hesse, Germany
Hesse, Germany

Working in their laboratory in Hesse, Germany, Peter Armbruster and Gottfried Münzenberg worked diligently on producing a new element. By 1984, they could make element 108, which was one of the unknown elements of the time. At the same time, Russia's Joint Institute for Nuclear Research was also working on the similar project and had also made element 108.

Because the evidence for hassium was valid and reliable by Armbruster and Münzenberg, they had the privilege of naming the newly discovered element. This was such a great honor that they decided to name the element after 'Hesse,' the place where their lab was located. In this lesson, let us have a look at the properties and uses of hassium.

The Properties of Hassium

Hassium has an atomic number of 108, which represents the number of protons within the nucleus. As one of the densest elements, it has an atomic mass of 277 AMU.

Hassium is a metal belongs to a group of elements called the transition metals. These metals make up the central block of the periodic table and have similar properties and characteristics, such as being hard, having high melting and boiling points, and conducting electricity very well.

Because only a few atoms of hassium were made, these characteristics are yet to be known. It is believed to be solid at room temperature, however, boiling point, melting point, and density are still unknown.

Hassium is the 108th element on the periodic table
Hassium on periodic table

Hassium is not found in nature. It is made within the laboratory and is, therefore, an artificially produced element. To make elements within the laboratory, scientists use a process called induced radioactivity, where elements are bombarded together to see if subatomic particles begin to bond with one another and produce new elements. This method was first introduced by Ernest Rutherford in the early 1900's and now is used within the laboratory setting to research newer elements.

The first hassium atoms made were isotopes, atoms that have the same number of protons but a different number of neutrons, making the atom much heavier or lighter. Currently, there are fifteen man-made isotopes of hassium, each containing different elements that were bombarded together.

Hs-265, which was made from bombarding lead with iron, was the isotope produced by the German scientists and accepted as the more reliable data for the creation of this element. Out of the 15 isotopes of hassium, Hs-276 has the longest half-life of 1.1 hours, which describes the time it takes for half the mass of the element to break down into another element.

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