Copernicium: Man-made Element #112 and Ununbium by Another Name

The Copernicium/Ununbium atom was first synthesized in Germany on February 9, 1996

The Copernicium/Ununbium atom was first synthesized in Germany on February 9, 1996

Fun Facts About Copernicium/Ununbium

Nicolaus Copernicus: Portrait, 1580, Toruń Old Town City Hall

Nicolaus Copernicus: Portrait, 1580, Toruń Old Town City Hall

German nuclear scientists at the GSI facility announce they have created element 112, ununbium. Ununbium would be later renamed to copernicium in honor of Nicolaus Copernicus.

Copernicium or Ununbium

Atomic Number: 112

Symbol: Cp or Uub

Atomic Weight: [277]

Discovery: Hofmann, Ninov et al. GSI-Germany, February 9, 1996

Electron Configuration: [Rn] 5f14 6d10 7s2

Name Origin: Named for Nicolaus Copernicus, who proposed the heliocentric solar system. The discoverers of copernicum wanted the element’s name to honor a famous scientist who did not get much recognition during his own liferime. Also, Hofmann and his team wished to honor the importance of nuclear chemistry to other scientific fields, such as astrophysics.

The 120 meter long linear ion accelerator at GSI-Germany

The 120 meter long linear ion accelerator at GSI-Germany

Properties: The chemistry of copernicum is expected to be similar to that of the elements zinc, cadmium, and mercury. In contrast to the lighter elements, element 112 decays after a fraction of a thousandth of a second by emitting alpha particles to first become an isotope of element 110 with atomic mass 273, and then an isotope of hassium with atomic mass 269. The decay chain has been followed for three more alpha-decays to fermium.

Sources: Element 112 was produced by fusing (melting together) a zinc atom with a lead atom. The zinc atom was accelerated to high energies by a heavy ion accelerator and directed onto a lead target.

Element Classification: Transition Metal

Special thanks to About.com

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