Last Updated: April 28, 2024


Discover the fascinating world of Tennessine, the superheavy synthetic element that has captured the attention of scientists and chemistry enthusiasts alike. In this comprehensive guide, we dive into the mysteries and marvels of Tennessine, exploring its unique properties, synthesis, and potential applications. With expert insights and engaging examples, we’ll unravel the significance of this remarkable element in the periodic table. Whether you’re a seasoned chemist or simply curious about the latest advancements in material science, our exploration of Tennessine promises to enlighten and inspire. Join us as we delve into the atomic intricacies and groundbreaking research surrounding one of the newest members of the periodic family, ensuring a captivating journey through the world of modern chemistry.

What is Tennessine?

Tennessine is a superheavy, synthetic element with the chemical symbol Ts and atomic number 117. It is known for being produced in particle accelerators through the fusion of atomic nuclei. Tennessine does not occur in nature and has a very short lifespan before it decays, which presents challenges for its study. The element’s discovery is crucial for nuclear physics research, especially in probing the properties and behaviors of superheavy elements in the periodic table. Because of its significant instability and radioactivity, tennessine has no practical applications beyond scientific inquiry, where it plays a role in investigating the conjectural “island of stability” and the boundaries of the periodic table.

Tennessine Formula

  • Formula: Ts
  • Composition: Consists of a single tennessine atom.
  • Bond Type: As a synthetic element, tennessine does not naturally form bonds as it exists only for fractions of a second before decaying. In theoretical compounds, it might form covalent or ionic bonds.
  • Molecular Structure: Tennessine, in its elemental form, does not have a traditional molecular structure due to its extreme instability and short half-life. It is not observed in large enough quantities to determine its solid-state structure.
  • Electron Sharing: Theoretical predictions suggest that tennessine could share electrons covalently or engage in ionic interactions in compounds, though no stable compounds involving tennessine have been synthesized to confirm these properties.
  • Significance: Tennessine’s significance lies primarily in the field of scientific research, particularly in the study of superheavy elements and the boundaries of the periodic table. Its synthesis and decay provide valuable insights into nuclear reactions and the stability of superheavy nuclei.
  • Role in Chemistry: Tennessine’s role in chemistry is mainly theoretical and research-based. It offers scientists a deeper understanding of the chemical behaviors of superheavy elements, even though it does not have practical applications due to its short half-life and the challenge in obtaining significant quantities.

Atomic Structure of Tennessine

Atomic Structure of Tennessine

Tennessine, a synthetic element positioned significantly apart from lighter, more commonly encountered elements such as hydrogen or gallium, is a superheavy element that holds a distinctive place in nuclear chemistry due to its location in the periodic table and its classification as a post-actinide.

Atomic Level: Each atom of Tennessine (Ts) is characterized by having 117 protons in its nucleus, defining its atomic number as 117. The theoretical electron configuration of Tennessine is [Rn]5f¹⁴ 6d¹⁰ 7s² 7p⁵, indicating it has a full 5f and 6d orbital, with five electrons in its 7p orbital, setting the stage for chemical interactions. However, relativistic effects are expected to significantly influence its actual electron configuration, potentially altering its chemical properties.

Molecular Formation: Unlike simpler elements that can form diatomic molecules (such as H₂), Tennessine does not naturally form molecules or exhibit a stable molecular structure due to its extremely short half-life and high instability. The element exists for only milliseconds before decaying into lighter elements, making the study of its bonding characteristics and molecular formation largely theoretical. In the hypothetical scenario where Tennessine atoms could persist long enough to interact chemically, their behavior would likely be influenced by their electron configuration, but this remains speculative.

The stability and phase of Tennessine under various temperatures and pressures are subjects of theoretical speculation, as its brief existence precludes the observation of solid, liquid, or gaseous states under normal conditions. The term “Tennessine Gas” does not apply in the same way it might for compounds like uranium hexafluoride (UF₆) in the context of uranium.

 Properties of Tennessine

Properties of Tennessine

Physical Properties of Tennessine

Property Description
Appearance Not observed directly; assumed to have no stable or long-lasting physical form due to its extreme radioactivity
Atomic Number 117
Density (at 20°C) d 7.1-7.3 g/cm³
Melting Point Predicted range: Not specifically estimated, but expected to be high (theoretical)
Boiling Point Predicted to be high, specific values not estimated (theoretical)
State at Room Temperature Expected to be solid (based on theoretical calculations)
Electron Configuration  [Rn] 5f¹⁴ 6d¹⁰ ₇s² ₇p⁵
Common Oxidation States +1, +3, +5

Chemical Properties of Tennessine

Tennessine, with the atomic number 117, is a synthetic element situated in group 17 of the periodic table.

  • Oxidation States Tennessine is expected to show oxidation states of −1, +1, +3, +5, and +7, with the −1 state being more stable. This pattern is consistent with the heavier elements in group 17, where a wide range of oxidation states is possible due to relativistic effects, but the most stable state mimics that of the halogens.
  • Predicted Halides Given its group 17 classification, tennessine is itself a halogen and is not expected to form halides in the same way other elements in the group do. Instead, it would more likely form compounds with metals or with other nonmetals from different groups.
  • Oxides Tennessine Oxides: The formation of tennessine oxides would be unusual, as halogens typically do not form stable oxides. Any theoretical oxides would likely demonstrate unique properties due to the element’s position on the periodic table and relativistic effects.
  • Hydrides Tennessine Hydride (TsH): This compound, while speculative, would be expected to behave similarly to other halogen hydrides, potentially exhibiting strong acidity and volatility.
  • Interhalogen Compounds Tennessine could potentially form interhalogen compounds with other halogens, exhibiting a variety of stoichiometries and properties reflective of its theoretical oxidation states.
  • Relativistic Effects The chemical behavior of tennessine is significantly influenced by relativistic effects, altering its electron orbitals and potentially leading to unique chemical properties not observed in lighter group 17 elements.
  • Experimental Limitations The synthesis of tennessine and its compounds faces significant challenges due to the element’s radioactivity and short half-life, making experimental verification of its chemical properties difficult.

The exploration of tennessine’s chemical properties remains largely theoretical, awaiting advancements in experimental techniques and the production of more stable isotopes for in-depth study.

Nuclear Properties of Tennessine

Property Value with Unit
Atomic Number 117
Atomic Mass Most stable isotope: Tennessine-294 (294 u)
Isotopes ^294Ts (most stable), among others
Half-Life (for ^294Ts) ~20 milliseconds (estimated)
Nuclear Spin Not precisely determined due to short half-lives
Neutron Cross Section Not determined (extremely short-lived isotopes make measurement challenging)

Preparation of Tennessine

Tennessine is a superheavy, synthetic element that does not occur naturally and can only be synthesized in a laboratory setting. The preparation of tennessine involves highly specialized equipment, including advanced nuclear reactors and ion accelerators. Here is an outline of the general process used to create tennessine:

Selection of Target and Projectile:

  • The preparation of tennessine typically involves a nuclear reaction between a lighter element (the projectile) and a heavier element (the target).A common combination used is berkelium (Bk) as the target and calcium (Ca) as the projectile.


  • The calcium ions are accelerated to high speeds using a particle accelerator. This process imparts the necessary kinetic energy to the calcium ions to overcome the electrostatic repulsion between the nuclei of the target and projectile.

Collision and Fusion:

  • The accelerated calcium ions are directed towards a thin layer of berkelium. Upon colliding with the berkelium atoms, they can fuse together, resulting in the formation of a heavier, compound nucleus.

Nucleus Cooling and Decay:

  • The compound nucleus thus formed is usually in an excited state and tends to lose its excess energy by emitting one or more neutrons, cooling down to a more stable state.

Detection and Identification:

  • The newly formed tennessine atoms are highly unstable and undergo radioactive decay in a very short time. Researchers detect and identify these atoms by observing their decay products and patterns, often using detectors that are sensitive to alpha particles, gamma rays, and spontaneous fission events.

Isolation of Isotopes:

  • Various isotopes of tennessine can be produced depending on the specific nuclear reaction and the energy involved in the process. Identifying these isotopes is crucial for studying the chemical and physical properties of tennessine.

Chemical Compounds of Tennessine

Chemical Compounds of Tennessine

  • Tennessine Oxide Formation

A theoretical compound suggesting the interaction between tennessine and oxygen to form an oxide.

Equation: 2Ts + O₂ → TsO₂

  • Tennessine Fluoride Reactivity

Predicts the formation of a fluoride compound when tennessine reacts with fluorine.

Equation: 2Ts + F₂ → TsF₂

  • Tennessine Chloride Interaction

Suggests the possibility of tennessine combining with chlorine to form a chloride compound.

Equation: 2Ts + Cl₂ → TsCl₂

  • Tennessine Bromide Chemistry

Indicates the theoretical reaction between tennessine and bromine to produce a bromide.

Equation: 2Ts + Br₂ → TsBr₂

  • Tennessine Iodide Inference

Inference about tennessine’s ability to react with iodine to form an iodide compound.

Equation: 2Ts + I₂ → TsI₂

  • Tennessine Hydride Speculation

Speculates on the reaction between tennessine and hydrogen to create a hydride.

Equation: 2Ts + H₂ → TsH₂

Isotopes of Tennessine

Tennessine is a synthetic element with no stable isotopes. Its isotopes have been created in laboratory settings through nuclear reactions, showcasing distinct decay characteristics.

Isotope Half-Life Decay Mode
Ts-293 Less than 20 ms Alpha decay to Mc-289
Ts-294 ~51 milliseconds Alpha decay to Mc-290
Ts-295 Predicted, not observed Predicted alpha decay
Ts-296 Predicted, not observed Predicted alpha decay
Ts-297 Predicted, not observed Predicted alpha decay to Mc-293
Ts-298 Predicted, not observed Predicted alpha decay
Ts-299 Predicted, not observed Predicted alpha decay

Uses of Tennessine

Uses of Tennessine

Tennessine is a synthetic, superheavy element with the atomic number 117. Due to its extremely short half-life and the fact that it can only be produced in minute quantities. Below are the potential uses and areas of interest related to tennessine:

Nuclear Physics Research:

  • Tennessine plays a crucial role in the study of nuclear physics, particularly in understanding the properties of superheavy elements. Researchers study tennessine’s decay patterns, half-life, and the possibility of reaching the “island of stability,” a theoretical region where superheavy elements might have longer half-lives.

Chemical Element Research:

  • Although tennessine’s chemical properties are largely unknown due to its instability, theoretical studies and comparisons with lighter homologs provide insights into the chemical behavior of superheavy elements. Research in this area expands our knowledge of the periodic table and chemical bonding.

Investigation of Relativistic Effects:

  • The study of tennessine and other superheavy elements allows scientists to investigate relativistic effects on electrons. These effects become significant in elements with very high atomic numbers and can alter chemical and physical properties in unexpected ways.

Astrophysical Research:

  • While tennessine is not found naturally and is unlikely to exist in observable quantities in the universe, its synthesis and study can contribute to astrophysical models, particularly those related to the process of nucleosynthesis in extreme cosmic environments.

Development of New Materials and Technologies:

  • Although tennessine itself is not directly used in developing new materials or technologies, the techniques developed for its synthesis and study can lead to advancements in particle accelerator technology and nuclear chemistry.

Production of Tennessine

Tennessine, with the symbol Ts and atomic number 117, is a synthetic element that is produced in minuscule quantities through nuclear reactions involving heavy ions. Here is an outline of how tennessine is produced:

  1. Selection of Target and Projectile Materials: The creation of tennessine typically requires bombarding a heavy target element with lighter ions. A frequent choice for the target is berkelium (Bk), specifically isotopes like Bk-249, while the projectile often involves calcium (Ca) ions, such as Ca-48.
  2. Acceleration of Projectile Ions: The calcium ions are accelerated to high velocities using a particle accelerator. This step is essential to overcome the electrostatic repulsion between the projectile ions and the target nuclei.
  3. Collision and Fusion: The accelerated calcium ions collide with the berkelium target. If conditions are favorable, a calcium ion can fuse with a berkelium nucleus, leading to the formation of a compound nucleus in an excited state, which is the nascent form of tennessine.
  4. Nuclear Decay: This compound nucleus may shed its surplus energy by emitting one or more neutrons, leading to the creation of a tennessine isotope.
  5. Detection and Identification: The freshly produced tennessine nuclei are highly unstable and decay swiftly. Detection systems equipped with mechanisms to track alpha decay, spontaneous fission, or gamma radiation are employed to confirm the presence of tennessine and to examine its characteristics.
  6. Challenges in Production: Synthesizing tennessine presents numerous challenges, including low production rates and the complication of isolating the element due to its rapid decay. The probability of successfully producing tennessine atoms is exceedingly slim, positioning it among the most difficult elements to generate and study.

Applications of Tennessine

Tennessine is a synthetic element with the atomic number 117, identified by its symbol, Ts. Due to its extremely short half-life and the challenges associated with its production in very small quantities:

  1. Scientific Research: The primary application of tennessine is in scientific research, particularly in nuclear physics and chemistry. Studies focus on investigating the element’s nuclear stability, decay patterns, and potential chemical properties, contributing valuable data to theoretical models of superheavy elements.
  2. Periodic Table and Elemental Behavior: Research on tennessine helps scientists understand the behavior of elements in the periodic table’s extreme regions. Insights gained from studying tennessine and its isotopes enhance knowledge of the periodic table’s structure and the forces that govern elemental properties.
  3. Search for the Island of Stability: Tennessine’s synthesis and study are part of the broader scientific quest to find the “island of stability,” a theoretical group of superheavy elements that are hypothesized to have relatively long half-lives. Discovering such elements would be a significant breakthrough in nuclear physics, potentially leading to new materials with novel properties.
  4. Advancements in Nuclear Chemistry and Physics: The techniques developed to produce and detect tennessine and other superheavy elements drive technological and methodological advancements in nuclear chemistry and physics. These advancements can have broader applications, including in medical imaging, radiation therapy, and materials science.
  5. Educational and Theoretical Significance: Tennessine’s discovery and the challenges associated with its study serve as an educational tool, illustrating the complexities of chemical synthesis, nuclear stability, and the theoretical limits of the periodic table. Its study aids in refining theoretical models of atomic structure and elemental behavior.

Tennessine is a fascinating element that pushes the boundaries of our understanding of the periodic table. As a member of the halogen group, it challenges traditional notions with its unique and theoretical properties. Although largely unexplored due to its short half-life, Tennessine’s synthesis marks a significant achievement in nuclear chemistry, offering a glimpse into the behavior of superheavy elements and the potential for future discoveries in this intriguing area of science.

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