A sneak peek into some of the rarest elements on Earth. Some elements only have less than 50g of it on this planet at one given time!
Elements, the building blocks of matter as they are dubbed, are an important part of not only our world, but our universe. Everything is made from elements, from your chair to your dog. Most of the elements that are found in objects that we constantly use and life are very common, while many elements you haven’t ever seen! Today I will tell you about some of the rarest elements in existence.
Polonium – about 100 grams produced yearly (by natural means)
Polonium is a highly radioactive element and a metalloid. Its atomic number is 84 and it was discovered by Marie and Pierre Curie in 1898. It occurs in Uranium ores as a by product of nuclear decay. Polonium could possibly be used in spacecraft for heating. Polonium is in the Oxygen family, along with Sulfur, Selenium, Tellurium, and the undiscovered Ununhexium. Polonium-210 is highly toxic, with a toxicity of about 250,000 TIMES AS MUCH AS HYDROGEN CYANIDE! Polonium is dealt with using specialized equipment and, as an alpha emitter, even the slightest amount can lead to swift death. Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko has even been killed by fatal amounts of Polonium-210, with the killer still unknown. The most common production of Polonium is by synthetically making it. Polonium-210 is a betay decay product of Bismuth-210.
Francium – about 28 grams in Earth’s crust at any given moment (by natural means)
Francium is the densest of the Alkali Metals and also radioactive. So little is known about it, because there is only about 1 ATOM OF FRANCIUM IN A CUBIC FOOT OF URANIUM ORE! But because elemental properties in the periodic table recurr periodically, chemists can predict that it is highly reactive to water. Even Francium’s most stable isotope, Francium-223 only has a half-life of 22 minutes. Because Francium is mainly only found synthetically in laboratory research, it has no known use outside of the laboratory. Other Alkali Metals include Hydrogen (technically not a metal), Lithium, Sodium, Potassium, Rubidium, and Cesium.
Promethium – has never been found naturally on Earth
Promethium is number 61 in the periodic table of elements and finds itself most useful in nuclear reactors as an alpha emitter. It is one of the rarest of the Rare Earth Metals, and has only been detected naturally in the constellation Andromeda. Promethium is metallic and emits a blue-green light, as it is highly radioactive. It could possibly be used in a nuclear powered battery lasting 5 years. Promethium belongs to the Lanthanide series. It is only found on Earth synthetically.
Technetium – has never been found naturally on Earth
Technetium is number 43 on the periodic table. Its two most common isotopes are Technetium-98 and Technetium-99. Technetium-99 is synthetically produced by the beta decay of Molybdenum-99. Technetium has only been naturally seen in S-, M-, and N-type stars. Technetium-98 is one of the most stable radiactive elements, with a half-life of 4.2 million years. Technetium-98 decays into Ruthenium-98 through beta decay.