Creating a chemical with 80% light-speed electrons
It’s not always as boring as it seems when you receive exactly the result you predicted. Sometimes it might even be exhilarating. A report on the synthesis of chemical compounds containing element 106, often known as Seaborgium, was published in Science last week. A cursory examination of the abstract revealed that the behaviour of this chemical was very much like that of the one created with Sg’s lighter relative, tungsten. You could think it is really uninteresting; in fact, I avoided discussing it the previous week for for this reason; nevertheless, when you find out that you wouldn’t necessarily predict this conclusion, you might change your mind.
It is remarkable in and of itself that the experiment was ever carried out, let alone completed. The isotope of seaborgium that was utilised in the experiment, 265Sg, has a half-life of barely 16 seconds. Because it must be created in a particle accelerator, it is generally rather energetic and is included in a cloud of energetic debris. Because of this, it is a part of the cloud. Therefore, the method consisted of slowing it down and separating it before allowing it to go through a chemical reaction. After that, they were finally able to describe something about the behaviour of the chemical that was produced.
In this particular instance, the researchers combined it with carbon monoxide in order to produce the compound Sg(CO)6. The chemical that was produced adhered to a surface of silicon dioxide for a short period of time before the Sg faded, which allowed for the very fundamental characterisation of the chemical’s behaviour. In addition, as was mentioned before, it exhibited behaviour that was comparable to that of the tungsten-based variant of the same molecule.
Why wouldn’t you anticipate that happening? Because simplistic estimates of how the electrons in seborgium behave suggest that it shouldn’t, the answer is no. On the other hand, some of the seborgium’s electrons are travelling at speeds close to 80 percent of the speed of light. This is because the seborgium nucleus has a large amount of positive charge. When travelling at this speed, the effects of relativity begin to take effect, and they must be taken into account in the computations. As soon as relativistic effects are taken into account, the computations begin to provide values that are beginning to resemble those of tungsten.
Indeed, this was the finding that the researchers came to. As a result, these findings serve as a good illustration of how it is sometimes more interesting to obtain the outcomes that match your expectations.