There are so many chemical elements in the world today, some of which are common elements while others are rare. An example of a rare element is francium. The element francium was discovered in 1939 by Marguerite Perey, a female physicist and student of the very popular female french physicist Marie Curie. Before Marguerite Perey discovered francium a lot of research had been made by other scientists in order to discover this element. This element occurs naturally and can be artificially in the lab. Naturally occurring francium are found in uranium ores as a result of actinium decay. Francium is not the rarest element in the world but it is said to be the second rarest element after astatine which happens to be the first and the second most electropositive element after Caesium which is officially considered the first.
Properties of Francium
Just like every other chemical element, the francium element has its own unique properties. These properties make this element differ from every other element existing on planet earth. The following are some of the properties of francium.
- Francium is a silver-grey metallic element.
- It is a radioactive alkali with an atomic number of 87.
- It is a solid at room temperature.
- It is a very rare element found naturally
- It can also be produced artificially.
- Naturally occurring francium is unstable.
- It has an atomic mass of 233 g.mol.
- It has a boiling point of 677°C and a melting point of 27°C.
- It has an electronegativity of 0.7.
- It is reactive with water.
- Francium has more than 20 isotopes.
Francium is an element that occurs naturally in uranium ores as a result of actinium decay and it can also be prepared artificially in laboratories by bombarding the neutron of radium in a nuclear reactor and it can also be made artificially by bombarding thorium with protons.
Every chemical element has its unique structure. This element belongs to group 1A and period 7 of the periodic table, this means it is considered as alkali metals. This element is a radioactive alkali metal that decays into astatine, radium and radon.
Francium is a heavy element having 87 electrons revolving around in its nucleus. It has an electronic configuration of 1s2 2s2 2p6 3s2 3p6 3d10 4s2 4p6 4d10 5s2 5p6 4f14 5d10 6s2 6p6 7s1.
Uses of Francium
Since it is produced in relatively small quantities both naturally and artificially, it does not have much commercial use. The following are some of the uses of francium.
- It has been used in research.
- It is used in the diagnostics of cancer treatment.
- It is used in spectroscopic experiments.
- It is considered a highly radioactive metal, and since it exhibits a short half-life, it does not have much impact on its surrounding environment.
Why is francium so rare?
The element francium is said to be the second rarest element after astatine because it does not occur much both in its natural and artificial forms. This element decays very quickly due to its halflife of just 22 minutes.
Presently, just less than thirty grams of francium exists on earth and 1g of francium is sold at $1billion, however this is an estimate of the real price as a specific amount has never been produced.
Is francium harmful to humans?
There are alot of elements that when they come in contact with human skin or any other part of the human body they cause one problem or the others, problems such as damage in the functions of delicate organs such as the brain, liver and kidneys. These elements are referred to as toxic elements and examples of these elements are cadmium, chromium, cobalt, copper, iron, lead, mercury, nickel, silver, tin, and zinc, as well as the lighter elements such as aluminum, arsenic, and selenium. Francium just like every other radioactive element is harmful to the human body. Although it is not produced in large quantities it gives off radiation just like other radioactive elements and this radiation can cause damage to the human body by destroying the body tissues and also the DNA in genes and this can result in cancer.
Can you legally buy francium?
Francium is a radioactive element that has a half-life of just 22 minutes. This element cannot be bought or sold because it decays very quickly.
How explosive is francium in water?
As earlier stated, francium is an element that is very reactive in water. When in contact with water, it would blow apart and this would result in the production of hydrogen gas, francium hydroxide, and a lot of heat and the entire area where this reaction took place would be contaminated with radioactive material.
Why is francium so explosive?
Francium is very explosive because it is an alkali metal and alkali metals react violently when mixed with water. As you move down the first column of the periodic table, you would discover that the reaction between the alkali metals and water becomes violent.