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Astatine

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  • Astatine is a radioactive chemical element with the chemical symbol At and atomic number 85.
  • It is highly radioactive and is only available in tiny quantities. Its properties are inferred from its position in the periodic table and by studying its chemistry in extremely dilute solutions.
    It is the least chemically reactive of the halogens and exhibits the most metallic properties of the halogen group.
  • It was made by bombarding bismuth-209 with alpha particles in a cyclotron to produce, after emission of two neutrons, astatine-211. The scientists found that the isotope they created was radioactive, so they named the element using the Greek ‘astatos’ meaning unstable.
  • It is now known that there are no stable astatine isotopes – the longest lived isotope, astatine-210, has a half-life of 8.3 hours.
  • Three years later, astatine was found in nature by Berta Karlik and Traude Bernert as an intermediate in radioactive decay chains. Traces of the element appear naturally in uranium and thorium minerals as a decay product. At any given time, about 25 grams of naturally occurring astatine exists on our planet.
  • Astatine-211 is sometimes used as a radioactive tracer and in cancer treatment.
  • Like iodine, it is known to accumulate in the thyroid gland. Many chemical properties of astatine have been determined using tracer studies on extremely dilute astatine solutions.
  • Astatine has an electronegativity of 2.2 on the revised Pauling scale. This is lower than that of iodine (2.66) and the same as that of hydrogen. However, in hydrogen astatide (HAt) the negative charge is predicted to be on the hydrogen atom, implying that this compound should instead be referred to as astatine hydride
  • The newly formed astatine-211 is important in nuclear medicine. It can be used for targeted alpha particle radiotherapy
     

 

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