Curious about Francium? How is it used? Who discovered it? Well you’ve come to the right place!
Francium is an extremely rare, radioactive metal that there is not enough of to be able to see what it looks like. Its properties are only predicted using data from elements in the same group as it and its location in the periodic table. This tells us that it is most likely highly reactive and would probably explode into flames if enough of it came into contact with water and air. If we ever were able to create enough of it for any useful purpose, though, it would most likely need to be stored in a vacuum for safety. Chemists believe that if seen, francium would be a very soft, silvery metal…just like the other alkali metals.
Discovered in 1939 by Marguerite Perey, francium was named after her home country, France. It was the missing element located below cesium and its discovery completed group 1 of the elements. Perey was working as a technician at the Curie Institute, when she found this new element. She later became the first woman member of the French Academy of Sciences.
As francium is only naturally formed through the decay of actinium, it is very radioactive. Its most abundant isotope, number 223, has a half-life of only about 22 minutes, at which point it decays to form astatine and radium. Theoretically speaking, if you happened to get ahold of 1 gram of francium, in 4 hours, you would be left with less than half a milligram left. This is why there are only a few grams of it in the Earth’s crust at any one time. Apart from scientific research, francium has no other uses currently. At the moment, scientists have to produce their own sample to study it. One way that is used is to bombard gold with oxygen ions in a particle accelerator, which will most likely create a very small sample of francium. Its main use is for scientists to see if their predictions about its properties are accurate.