Last Updated: April 28, 2024


Dive into the captivating world of Technetium, an element shrouded in scientific intrigue. This complete guide unveils Technetium’s definition, showcases its groundbreaking uses in medicine and technology, and explores the diverse compounds it forms. With examples highlighting Technetium’s role in diagnostic imaging and its unique position in the periodic table, readers will gain insights into how this synthetic element impacts various industries. Discover the allure of Technetium, the bridge between science and innovation, in this comprehensive exploration.

What is Technetium?

Technetium is a radioactive element with a silvery-gray appearance, known for its unique position in the periodic table with the atomic number 43. It is the first element in the periodic table that does not have any stable isotopes, highlighting its rarity and making it a subject of interest in nuclear science and applications. With a notable exception being its presence in some stars and the earth’s crust in minute quantities through spontaneous fission or cosmic ray interaction. This element finds its applications primarily in the field of medicine, particularly in nuclear medicine for diagnostic tests involving the imaging of organs, such as the brain, heart, and bones, using its most commonly used isotope, Technetium-99m.

Technetium Formula

  • Formula: Tc
  • Composition: Consists of a single technetium atom.
  • Bond Type: In its elemental form, technetium does not have bonds as it is a pure element. However, technetium can form covalent or ionic bonds when reacting with other elements.
  • Molecular Structure: As a pure element, technetium does not form a molecular structure in the same sense as compounds. At room temperature, technetium is in a metallic state with a hexagonal close-packed crystalline structure.
  • Electron Sharing: In compounds, technetium typically shares electrons covalently or transfers electrons ionically, depending on the nature of the other element(s) it is bonding with.
  • Significance: Technetium is notable for being the first artificially produced element and for its use in medical diagnostics. Technetium-99m, a radioactive isotope of technetium, is widely used in nuclear medicine for a variety of diagnostic tests.
  • Role in Chemistry: Technetium plays a crucial role in nuclear medicine and research. It forms a variety of compounds that are essential for diagnostic imaging, making it a key material in medical applications and scientific research.

Atomic Structure of Technetium

Atomic Structure of Technetium

Technetium, symbol Tc and atomic number 43, holds a unique position in the periodic table as the first element without any stable isotopes. This transition metal is characterized by its atomic structure, which includes 43 protons in its nucleus, giving it its distinct chemical identity. The most common isotope, Technetium-98, has 55 neutrons, leading to a mass number of 98.
Electronically, Technetium’s electrons are arranged in shells around the nucleus, with an electron configuration of [Kr] 4d⁵5s². This configuration underlines its reactivity and the formation of various oxidation states, ranging from -1 to +7, showcasing its versatility in forming compounds. The absence of stable isotopes and its position in the d-block of the periodic table make Technetium a fascinating subject for scientific study, especially in understanding the properties of transition metals and their compounds.

Properties of Technetium

Properties of Technetium (1)

Physical Properties of Technetium

Property Value
Atomic Number 43
Atomic Weight 98
Melting Point 2157°C (3915°F)
Boiling Point 4265°C (7709°F)
Density 11 g/cm³ at 20°C
Phase at Room Temperature Solid
Crystal Structure Hexagonal Close-Packed (hcp)
Color Silvery gray metallic

Chemical Properties of Technetium

Technetium is a d-block transition metal, notable for its position in the periodic table as the lightest element whose isotopes are all radioactive. The most stable and common isotope, Technetium-98, has a half-life of about 4.2 million years, while the most commonly used isotope in medical applications, Technetium-99m, has a half-life of just 6 hours.

Oxidation States: Technetium exhibits a wide range of oxidation states, from -1 to +7, with +4, +5, and +7 being the most common. This allows for the formation of various technetium compounds, such as oxides, halides, and complex ions.

Reactivity with Air and Water: Technetium slowly tarnishes in moist air, forming technetium dioxide (TcO₂). It does not react with water but can form oxides when heated in air.

2 Tc+O₂→2 TcO₂

Acidic and Basic Behavior: In its higher oxidation states, technetium acts as an acid, forming complexes such as pertechnetate (TcO₄⁻). In lower oxidation states, it can act more like a metal, forming cations such as Tc₃⁺ in solution.

Formation of Complexes: Technetium forms a variety of coordination compounds, especially in the +7 oxidation state, where it resembles rhenium and manganese. The pertechnetate ion (TcO₄⁻) is analogous to the permanganate ion (MnO₄⁻), but it is less oxidizing.

Role in Nuclear Medicine: The chemic₄al properties of technetium, particularly of the isotope Technetium-99m, are exploited in nuclear medicine. Technetium-99m is used as a radiotracer because it emits gamma rays that can be detected by a gamma camera, providing valuable diagnostic information without staying in the body for a long time due to its short half-life.

Thermodynamic Properties of Technetium

Property Value
Melting Point 2,157°C
Boiling Point 4,265°C
Heat of Fusion 33.29 kJ/mol
Heat of Vaporization 585.2 kJ/mol
Specific Heat Capacity 24.27 J/(mol·K)
Thermal Conductivity 50.6 W/(m·K)

Material Properties of Technetium

Property Value
Atomic Number 43
Atomic Mass 98 u
Density 11 g/cm³ at 20°C
Crystal Structure Hexagonal
Young’s Modulus 463 GPa
Shear Modulus
Bulk Modulus
Mohs Hardness 7.0

Electromagnetic Properties of Technetium

Property Value
Electrical Resistivity 200 nΩ·m at 20°C
Magnetic Ordering Paramagnetic
Superconducting Point Below 7.8 K

Nuclear Properties of Technetium

Property Value
Most Stable Isotope Technetium-98 (4.2 million years)
Nuclear Spin 9/2⁺ for ⁹⁹Tc
Neutron Cross Section 20.0 barns for thermal neutrons
Isotopes Over 30, with mass numbers from 90 to 120

Preparation of Technetium

Technetium, with the atomic number 43, is the first element in the periodic table that does not have any stable isotopes. It is predominantly produced as a byproduct of the nuclear fission of uranium and plutonium in nuclear reactors. The preparation of technetium involves several steps, including its extraction from nuclear waste and the neutron activation of molybdenum. Below are the primary methods used in the preparation of technetium:

1. Extraction from Nuclear Waste

  • Fission Product: Technetium-99 (^99Tc) is generated as a fission product in nuclear reactors. It can be extracted from spent nuclear fuel rods, where it is present in small quantities.
  • Chemical Separation: The process involves chemical separation techniques to isolate technetium from other fission products and radioactive elements. This separation is crucial due to the mixture of highly radioactive materials.

2. Neutron Activation of Molybdenum

  • Direct Activation: Molybdenum-98 (^98Mo), a naturally occurring isotope of molybdenum, can be activated in a nuclear reactor to produce technetium-99m (^99mTc) through neutron capture:
  • Generator Systems: Technetium-99m, the metastable isotope widely used in medical diagnostic procedures, is derived from the decay of molybdenum-99 (^99Mo). This isotope is produced in a molybdenum-99/technetium-99m generator system, allowing for the on-site preparation of ^99mTc for medical applications.

3. Direct Synthesis (Less Common)

  • Particle Accelerators: Direct synthesis of technetium isotopes can also be achieved using particle accelerators, where specific reactions involving the bombardment of lighter elements with protons or deuterons produce technetium.

Chemical Compounds of Technetium

Chemical Compounds of Technetium (1)

  1. Technetium Dioxide (TcO₂)
    • A stable oxide formed when technetium reacts with oxygen.
    • Equation: Tc+O₂→TcO₂
  2. Pertechnetate Ion (TcO₄⁻)
    • A common anion in technetium chemistry, analogous to permanganate.
    • Equation: TcO₄⁻+H₂O→TcO₄⁻+2H⁺+2e⁻
  3. Technetium Heptoxide (Tc₂O₇)
    • A volatile, oxidizing agent formed at high oxidation states of technetium.
    • Equation: 2TcO₄⁻+2H⁺→Tc2O₇+H₂O
  4. Technetium Sulfide (TcS₂)
    • A compound indicating technetium’s ability to form sulfides.
    • Equation: Tc+2S→TcS₂
  5. Technetium Hexacarbonyl (Tc(CO)₆)
    • Illustrates technetium’s capacity to form complex organometallic compounds.
    • Equation: Tc+6CO→Tc(CO)₆
  6. Technetium Tetrachloride (TcCl₄)
    • A compound formed by the reaction of technetium with chlorine, showing its ability to form halides.
    • Equation: Tc+2Cl₂→TcCl₄

Isotopes of Technetium

Isotope Half-Life Decay Mode
Technetium-97 4.21 million years Beta decay to Ruthenium-97
Technetium-98 4.2 million years Beta decay to Ruthenium-98
Technetium-99 211,100 years Beta decay to Ruthenium-99
Technetium-99m 6 hours Isomeric transition to Technetium-99
Technetium-100 15.8 seconds Beta decay to Ruthenium-100

Uses of Technetium

Uses of Technetium

1. Medical Imaging: Technetium-99m, a radioactive isotope, is widely used in nuclear medicine for diagnostic tests, including bone scans, cardiac stress tests, and the detection of cancerous tumors due to its ideal radiation emission properties and short half-life.

2. Industrial Radiography: Technetium-99 can be used in industrial radiography to inspect welding seams of metal parts and pipelines, ensuring structural integrity without causing long-term radioactive exposure.

3. Research and Development: In scientific research, Technetium isotopes serve as tracers in biochemical research, helping scientists study mechanisms in chemistry and biology due to their radioactive nature.

4. Corrosion Detection: Technetium compounds, thanks to their chemical properties, are utilized in studying corrosion processes in steel, offering insights into preventing or managing corrosion in critical infrastructure.

5. Superconductivity: Research into Technetium’s superconducting properties at very low temperatures contributes to the development of superconductive materials, potentially revolutionizing electronic devices and power transmission.

Production of Technetium

Technetium, the first artificially produced element, is primarily obtained as a byproduct of nuclear reactors and the processing of nuclear fuels. Here’s an overview of its production process:

Fission of Uranium-235

  • Source: Technetium-99 (^99Tc) is produced during the fission of uranium-235 (^235U) in nuclear reactors.
  • Process: When ^235U atoms split, a variety of fission products are created, including technetium-99.
  • Extraction: Technetium-99 is separated from other fission products and uranium remnants through chemical processes.

Neutron Activation of Molybdenum-98

  • Source: Another method involves neutron activation of molybdenum-98 (^98Mo), a naturally occurring isotope of molybdenum.
  • Process: ^98Mo absorbs a neutron to become molybdenum-99 (^99Mo), which then decays to technetium-99m (^99mTc), a metastable nuclear isomer used in medical diagnostics.
  • Extraction: ^99mTc is extracted from ^99Mo through a generator system, often referred to as a “technetium cow.”

Applications of Technetium

Technetium’s unique properties, especially of its metastable isotope technetium-99m (^99mTc), make it invaluable in various fields, predominantly in medicine and industry.


  • Diagnostic Imaging: ^99mTc is widely used in nuclear medicine for diagnostic imaging. Its ability to emit gamma rays without beta particles makes it ideal for creating detailed images of internal organs, bones, and tissues.
  • Cancer Treatment: Certain isotopes of technetium are explored for targeted cancer treatment, taking advantage of their radioactive properties to kill cancer cells.


  • Non-Destructive Testing: Technetium’s radioactive properties are utilized in non-destructive testing, helping to detect defects in metal parts and welds.
  • Radioactive Tracers: In chemical and petroleum engineering, technetium isotopes serve as tracers to study the movement of fluids in pipelines and reservoirs.


  • Scientific Studies: Technetium isotopes are used in scientific research, including studies on the behavior of radioactive materials in the environment and their impact on living organisms.

Technetium, an element born from nuclear fission, plays a crucial role in modern medicine and industry. Its isotopes, especially technetium-99m, revolutionize diagnostic imaging, offering clear insights into the human body. Despite its artificial origin, technetium’s applications demonstrate the synergy between nuclear technology and healthcare, underscoring its invaluable contribution to medical diagnostics and research.

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