Some elements exist in several different structural forms, called allotropes. Each allotrope has different physical properties.

For more information on the Visual Elements image see the Uses and properties section below.



A vertical column in the periodic table. Members of a group typically have similar properties and electron configurations in their outer shell.

A horizontal row in the periodic table. The atomic number of each element increases by one, reading from left to right.

Elements are organised into blocks by the orbital type in which the outer electrons are found. These blocks are named for the characteristic spectra they produce: sharp (s), principal (p), diffuse (d), and fundamental (f).

Atomic number
The number of protons in an atom.

Electron configuration
The arrangements of electrons above the last (closed shell) noble gas.

Melting point
The temperature at which the solid–liquid phase change occurs.

Boiling point
The temperature at which the liquid–gas phase change occurs.

The transition of a substance directly from the solid to the gas phase without passing through a liquid phase.

Density (g cm−3)
Density is the mass of a substance that would fill 1 cm3 at room temperature.

Relative atomic mass
The mass of an atom relative to that of carbon-12. This is approximately the sum of the number of protons and neutrons in the nucleus. Where more than one isotope exists, the value given is the abundance weighted average.

Atoms of the same element with different numbers of neutrons.

CAS number
The Chemical Abstracts Service registry number is a unique identifier of a particular chemical, designed to prevent confusion arising from different languages and naming systems.

Fact box

Group 10  Melting point Unknown 
Period Boiling point Unknown 
Block Density (g cm−3) Unknown 
Atomic number 110  Relative atomic mass [281]  
State at 20°C Solid  Key isotopes 281Ds 
Electron configuration [Rn] 5f146d97s1  CAS number 54083-77-1 
ChemSpider ID - ChemSpider is a free chemical structure database


Image explanation

Murray Robertson is the artist behind the images which make up Visual Elements. This is where the artist explains his interpretation of the element and the science behind the picture.


The description of the element in its natural form.

Biological role

The role of the element in humans, animals and plants.

Natural abundance

Where the element is most commonly found in nature, and how it is sourced commercially.

Uses and properties

Image explanation
Darmstadtium is highly radioactive, so the image is based on an abstracted atomic model and trails of sub-atomic particles.
A highly radioactive metal, of which only a few atoms have ever been made.
At present, it is only used in research.
Biological role
Darmstadtium has no known biological role.
Natural abundance
A man-made element of which only a few atoms have ever been created. It that is formed by fusing nickel and lead atoms in a heavy ion accelerator.
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There are 15 known isotopes of darmstadtium, isotopes 267-281, and the heaviest is the longest-lived, with a half-life of 4 minutes.

There were several attempts to make element 110 at the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research (JINR) at Dubna in Russia, and at the German Geselleschaft für Schwerionenforschung (GSI) at Darmstadt, but all were unsuccessful. Then Albert Ghiorso and his team at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), California, obtained isotope 267 by bombarding bismuth with cobalt, but they could not confirm their findings.

In 1994, a team headed by Yuri Oganessian and Vladimir Utyonkov at the JINR made isotope-273 by bombarding plutonium with sulfur. The same year, a team headed by Peter Armbruster and Gottfried Munzenberg at the GSI bombarded lead with nickel and synthesised isotope 269. The latter group’s evidence was deemed more reliable and confirmed by others around the world, so they were allowed to name element 110.

Atomic radius, non-bonded
Half of the distance between two unbonded atoms of the same element when the electrostatic forces are balanced. These values were determined using several different methods.

Covalent radius
Half of the distance between two atoms within a single covalent bond. Values are given for typical oxidation number and coordination.

Electron affinity
The energy released when an electron is added to the neutral atom and a negative ion is formed.

Electronegativity (Pauling scale)
The tendency of an atom to attract electrons towards itself, expressed on a relative scale.

First ionisation energy
The minimum energy required to remove an electron from a neutral atom in its ground state.

Atomic data

Atomic radius, non-bonded (Å) Unknown Covalent radius (Å) 1.28
Electron affinity (kJ mol−1) Unknown Electronegativity
(Pauling scale)
Ionisation energies
(kJ mol−1)


Common oxidation states

The oxidation state of an atom is a measure of the degree of oxidation of an atom. It is defined as being the charge that an atom would have if all bonds were ionic. Uncombined elements have an oxidation state of 0. The sum of the oxidation states within a compound or ion must equal the overall charge.


Atoms of the same element with different numbers of neutrons.

Key for isotopes

Half life
  y years
  d days
  h hours
  m minutes
  s seconds
Mode of decay
  α alpha particle emission
  β negative beta (electron) emission
  β+ positron emission
  EC orbital electron capture
  sf spontaneous fission
  ββ double beta emission
  ECEC double orbital electron capture

Oxidation states and isotopes

Common oxidation states Unknown
Isotopes Isotope Atomic mass Natural abundance (%) Half life Mode of decay
  281Ds 281.165 - 13 s  sf 


Data for this section been provided by the British Geological Survey.

Relative supply risk

An integrated supply risk index from 1 (very low risk) to 10 (very high risk). This is calculated by combining the scores for crustal abundance, reserve distribution, production concentration, substitutability, recycling rate and political stability scores.

Crustal abundance (ppm)

The number of atoms of the element per 1 million atoms of the Earth’s crust.

Recycling rate

The percentage of a commodity which is recycled. A higher recycling rate may reduce risk to supply.


The availability of suitable substitutes for a given commodity.
High = substitution not possible or very difficult.
Medium = substitution is possible but there may be an economic and/or performance impact
Low = substitution is possible with little or no economic and/or performance impact

Production concentration

The percentage of an element produced in the top producing country. The higher the value, the larger risk there is to supply.

Reserve distribution

The percentage of the world reserves located in the country with the largest reserves. The higher the value, the larger risk there is to supply.

Political stability of top producer

A percentile rank for the political stability of the top producing country, derived from World Bank governance indicators.

Political stability of top reserve holder

A percentile rank for the political stability of the country with the largest reserves, derived from World Bank governance indicators.



Specific heat capacity (J kg−1 K−1)

Specific heat capacity is the amount of energy needed to change the temperature of a kilogram of a substance by 1 K.

Young's modulus

A measure of the stiffness of a substance. It provides a measure of how difficult it is to extend a material, with a value given by the ratio of tensile strength to tensile strain.

Shear modulus

A measure of how difficult it is to deform a material. It is given by the ratio of the shear stress to the shear strain.

Bulk modulus

A measure of how difficult it is to compress a substance. It is given by the ratio of the pressure on a body to the fractional decrease in volume.

Vapour pressure

A measure of the propensity of a substance to evaporate. It is defined as the equilibrium pressure exerted by the gas produced above a substance in a closed system.

Pressure and temperature data – advanced

Specific heat capacity
(J kg−1 K−1)
Unknown Young's modulus (GPa) Unknown
Shear modulus (GPa) Unknown Bulk modulus (GPa) Unknown
Vapour pressure  
Temperature (K)
400 600 800 1000 1200 1400 1600 1800 2000 2200 2400
Pressure (Pa)
- - - - - - - - - - -
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Listen to Darmstadtium Podcast
Transcript :

Chemistry in its element: darmstadtium


You're listening to Chemistry in its element brought to you by Chemistry World, the magazine of the Royal Society of Chemistry.

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Meera Senthilingam

This week, an element that brings fleeting moments of wonder. Here's Brian Clegg.

Brian Clegg

I've a coffee cup on my desk, a Christmas present from my niece, inscribed with the periodic table. There, at element 110 beneath platinum, is the clumsy and practically unpronounceable ununnilium - just a fancy way of saying 'one one oh - ium'. A range of artificial elements were originally given placeholder names like this back in 1979 by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry, the body that controls the naming of chemical elements.

Often this was because there was a dispute over just who had discovered the element and got the honour of naming it, but now, I'm glad to say, element 110 has a more manageable name, darmstadtium and my mug is out of date.

This is one of the transfermium elements, the discontinuous block above element 100 that takes in a couple of the actinides and the row that continues after the actinides with lawrencium. If there is one thing that typifies darmstadtium it's that it is an element of speed. The first isotope discovered, darmstadtium 269, has a minuscule half life of just 270 microseconds. Before you can cry out in triumph 'We've made darmstadtium!' it is long gone.

This brevity contributed to the disputes over who first made element 110. It was claimed by both the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Dubna, Russia in 1987 and by the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory in 1991, but there was considerable doubt about both claims. Darmstadtium was to get its name after the location of the Gesellschaft für Schwerionenforschung, roughly translating as the 'centre for heavy ion research'.

Usually contracted to the more easily pronounced GSI, and part of the impressively named German government group of establishments the Hermann von Helmholtz-Gemeinschaft Deutscher Forschungszentren, the GSI is located at Darmstadt in Germany. The alternative name of wixhausium was briefly considered for the element, after Wixhausen, the part of Darmstadt where the institute is located, but darmstadtium was considered to have a better ring to it.

In 1994, at the GSI, an international team slammed high energy nickel ions into a lead target. The group, led by Sigurd Hofmann, included German physicists Peter Armbruster and Gottfried Münzenberg, a pair who between them have brought six of the transfermium elements into existence. Despite throwing in 3 trillion ions per second, just 3 atoms of darmstadtium 269 were produced, decaying to hassium, seaborgium and rutherfordium in the blink of an eye.

To date, a handful of other isotopes have been made, all blinking out of existence before there's a chance to investigate their properties. There is some dispute over just what the half-lives are, but the longest is probably darmstadtium 281 at 11 seconds. The expectation, if we could study a piece of darmstadtium is that this would be a silvery metal, not unlike platinum in behaviour - but short of slowing down time, no one is going to get a chance to see.

It's worth taking a closer look at just how darmstadtium was brought into being. Like all the elements heavier than uranium, it does not exist at all in nature. Up to around the element 100 mark, the heavier elements can be produced by pumping in neutrons, which undergo beta decay, giving off an electron, to add extra protons to the nucleus. But for heavier atoms still, like darmstadtium, it is necessary to slam particles like the nickel ions used here into a nucleus at velocities around 10 per cent of the speed of light, giving them enough energy to overcome the powerful electromagnetic repulsion of the nucleus, and allowing fusion to take place.

The nickel ions were accelerated by UNILAC, short for 'universal linear accelerator' a 120 metre long straight acceleration chamber at the GSI where a series of powerful electromagnets blast charged particles along at higher and higher speeds. The vast majority of collisions fail, but just occasionally the nuclei fuse, typically losing a small number of neutrons and settle down to a short-lived new element. In the case of darmstadtium, the nucleus soon emits alpha particles - helium nuclei consisting of two protons and two neutrons bound together - which transforms the darmstadtium into its longer-lived decay products.

With so many trillions of particles being shot down the accelerator, it is a difficult task to separate the very few products where fusion has taken place. This is the job of a second piece of technology called SHIP, the Separator for Heavy Ion reactor Products. SHIP acts as a filter - by balancing electric and magnetic fields very precisely, only the particular heavy reaction products, in our case, darmstadtium, that are selected for get through without being deflected out of the way.

Rather confusingly, despite its short-lived nature, you may find yourself taking a visit to Darmstadtium or even holding a meeting there. This is because the town of Darmstadt took the name from the element for its science and meetings building - in essence a convention centre - opened in 2008.

If elements were insects, darmstadtium would be the mayfly of the chemical world. It exists for the most fleeting time before it transforms to something else. Darmstadium is never going to have a practical use - but its sheer brevity of existence gives it a wistful fascination.

Meera Senthilingam

So its lack of application is made up for by the wistful wonder of its chemistry. That was science writer, Brian Clegg, with the fast paced chemistry of darmstadium.

Now next week, we get minty fresh.

Lars Ohrstrom

If you chew gum, you will most likely encounter another result of rhodium catalysis, menthol. Originally extracted from different species of mint plants, the demand for this substance, with its characteristic minty scent, far exceeds the natural sources and it is now produced in several thousand tonnes a year in the process devised by Japanese Nobel Prize winner Ryoji Noyori.

Meera Senthilingam

And for other uses of the rare element, rhodium, join Lars Ohrstrom in next weeks Chemistry in its element and until then, I'm Meera Senthilingam and thank you for listening.


Chemistry in its element is brought to you by the Royal Society of Chemistry and produced by There's more information and other episodes of Chemistry in its element on our website at

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Visual Elements images and videos
© Murray Robertson 1998-2017.



W. M. Haynes, ed., CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics, CRC Press/Taylor and Francis, Boca Raton, FL, 95th Edition, Internet Version 2015, accessed December 2014.
Tables of Physical & Chemical Constants, Kaye & Laby Online, 16th edition, 1995. Version 1.0 (2005), accessed December 2014.
J. S. Coursey, D. J. Schwab, J. J. Tsai, and R. A. Dragoset, Atomic Weights and Isotopic Compositions (version 4.1), 2015, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, accessed November 2016.
T. L. Cottrell, The Strengths of Chemical Bonds, Butterworth, London, 1954.


Uses and properties

John Emsley, Nature’s Building Blocks: An A-Z Guide to the Elements, Oxford University Press, New York, 2nd Edition, 2011.
Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility - Office of Science Education, It’s Elemental - The Periodic Table of Elements, accessed December 2014.
Periodic Table of Videos, accessed December 2014.


Supply risk data

Derived in part from material provided by the British Geological Survey © NERC.


History text

Elements 1-112, 114, 116 and 117 © John Emsley 2012. Elements 113, 115, 117 and 118 © Royal Society of Chemistry 2017.



Produced by The Naked Scientists.


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