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Actinium, element number 89, is followed in the periodic table as far as element 103 by the actinides, all of which are poisonous and radioactive. As is the case with the lanthanides (elements 57 to 71) the lower electron shells in the actinides are only partially filled, with the result that they have a range of useful properties, which are less well-known than the applications of these elements in nuclear technology. It is with these recently discovered characteristics - both those of the metallic elements and of compounds they form with other elements - that this article is concerned. The main subjects discussed are: the high anisotropic magnetism and the supraconductivity of the substances, experiments using extreme pressures to change the status of 5f-electrons from free to bonded, the production of pure actinide material necessary for the synthesis of compounds and the related problem of impurities generated by their own radioactive decay and, finally, the need for close cooperation between physicists and chemists to develop new production methods and applications for these materials.

Additional information

Authors: FUGER J, JRC Karlsruhe (DE);LANDER G H, JRC Karlsruhe (DE)
Bibliographic Reference: Article: Bild der Wissenschaft, Vol. 12 (1989) pp. 84-92
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