The electron configuration of Plutonium is [Rn] 5f6 7s2. Plutonium is the chemical element of the periodic table of elements. It is transuranic and radioactive, its atomic number corresponds to 94 and it is represented by the chemical symbol Pu. It is characterized by being an actinide metal, its appearance is silvery and gray.
Plutonium, in contact with air, darkens and creates an opaque layer as it oxidizes. This element generally has 4 oxidation states and 6 allotropic states. It reacts with halogens, carbon, silicon and nitrogen.
When exposed to moist air, it creates hydrides and oxides which increase the volume of the element by 70%. At the same time, it is released in powder form and usually ignites spontaneously. This element is radioactive and can lodge in the bones, these properties make plutonium a dangerous element to handle.
Electron configuration of plutonium
The Electron configuration of a chemical element determines how the structure that the electrons have in the atoms of an element develops.
In the case of Plutonium, its total electron configuration is 1s2 2s2 2p6 3s2 3p6 3d10 4s2 4p6 4d10 5s2 5p6 4f14 5d10 6s2 6p6 5f6 7s2 and its shortest or simplified version is [Rn] 5f6 7s2.
The atomic mass of plutonium is 2.4 u. With the atomic mass, we know what is the total mass of protons and neutrons located in an atom of the element. Plutonium is located in period 7 of the periodic table, the Bohr radius or atomic radius of this element is 175 pm.
The boiling point is -269.15 degrees Celsius or degrees Celsius, equal to 3 degrees Kelvin. The melting point is 639.85 degrees Celsius or Celsius, similar to 912 Kelvin.
Uses of Plutonium Isotopes
Plutonium is a primordial element, the one with the greatest weight according to its most stable isotope. This is plutonium-244, which has a half-life of about 80 million years, the time needed for the element to be found in small quantities in the environment. Plutonium is primarily a byproduct of nuclear fission in reactors, where some neutrons released from the fission process transform uranium-238 nuclei into the element plutonium.
One of the most widely used isotopes of this element is plutonium-239, which has a half-life of 24,100 years. This isotope together with plutonium-241 corresponds to fissile elements, this means that the nuclei of their atoms can be split by being bombarded with thermal neutrons, leaving free energy, neutrons and gamma radiation. Thanks to these neutrons, it is possible to maintain a nuclear chain reaction and can be used in nuclear reactors and weapons.
Another isotope of plutonium is plutonium-238 whose half-life is equal to 88 years, this generates the emission of alpha particles. It is characterized by being a heat source for radioisotope thermoelectric generators used to supply energy to space probes.
The isotope plutonium-240 has a high rate of spontaneous fission and increases the neutron flux in any sample found. The presence of this last isotope limits the applications of the samples for nuclear fuel or for weapons and defines their grade. The isotopes of this element are difficult to separate and expensive, so they are usually made in specialized reactors.
Controversy with the electron configuration of Plutonium
- Plutonium was first synthesized in 1940 at the Berkeley Laboratory, located at the University of California, by bombarding deuterium with uranium-238. Traces of plutonium were then found in the environment.
- The first production of this element in usable quantities was important in the Manhattan Project, as World War II was developing, when the first atomic bombs were being worked on.
- The first nuclear test carried out was called “Trinity” in July 1945. The second atomic bomb used for the destruction of a city was called “Fat Man” and was launched in Nagasaki, Japan, more precisely in August 1945. This bomb it contained plutonium-239 nuclei.
- During and after the war, experiments were carried out on people without their consent, with which the radiation of plutonium was studied, resulting in different critical accidents, in some of the fatal cases.
- The disposal of plutonium waste from nuclear power plant sites and the dismantling of nuclear weapons that were built during the Cold War are environmental and nuclear proliferation concerns today.
- Other sources of plutonium found in the environment exist due to multiple surface nuclear tests, which are currently banned.