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A chemical bond between a superheavy element and a carbon atom has been established for the first time. This research opens new vistas for studying the effects of Einstein's relativity on the structure of the periodic table.
An international collaboration led by research groups from Mainz and Darmstadt, Germany, has achieved the synthesis of a new class of chemical compounds for superheavy elements at the RIKEN Nishina Center for Accelerator-based Research (RNC) in Japan. For the first time, a chemical bond was established between a superheavy element -- seaborgium (element 106) in the present study -- and a carbon atom. Eighteen atoms of seaborgium were converted into seaborgium hexacarbonyl complexes, which include six carbon monoxide molecules bound to the seaborgium.
Its gaseous properties and adsorption to a silicon dioxide surface were studied, and compared with similar compounds of neighbors of seaborgium in the same group of the periodic table. The study opens perspectives for much more detailed investigations of the chemical behavior of elements at the end of the periodic table, where the influence of effects of relativity on chemical properties is most pronounced.
Chemical experiments with superheavy elements -- with atomic number beyond 104 -- are most challenging: First, the very element to be studied has to be artificially created using a particle accelerator. Maximum production rates are on the order of a few atoms per day at most, and are even less for the heavier ones. Second, the atoms decay quickly through radioactive processes -- in the present case within about 10 seconds, adding to the experiment's complexity.