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 14  Melting point Unknown 
Period Boiling point Unknown 
Block Density (g cm−3) Unknown 
Atomic number 114  Relative atomic mass [289]  
State at 20°C Solid  Key isotopes 289Fl 
Electron configuration [Rn] 5f146d107s27p2  CAS number 54085-16-4 
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
The image features an abstracted form inspired by the colonnade of the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research (JINR), where the element was discovered. The two main colours represent the creation of the element from calcium and plutonium. The background features abstracted particle trails and sections from the ground plan of the accelerator at JINR.
A highly radioactive metal, of which only a few atoms have ever been made.
At present, it is only used in research.
Biological role
It has no known biological role.
Natural abundance
Flerovium can be formed in nuclear reactors.
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There are four known isotopes of flerovium with mass numbers 286-289. The longest-lived is 289 and it has a half-life of 2.6 seconds. Nuclear theory suggests that isotope 298, with 184 neutrons, should be much more stable but that has yet to be made.

Despite several attempts to make element 114, it was only in 1998 that a team led by Yuri Oganessian and Vladimir Utyonkov at the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research (JINR) in Russia produced it by bombarding plutonium with calcium. It needed 5 billion billion (5 x 1018) atoms of calcium to be fired at the target to produce a single atom of flerovium, in an experiment lasting 40 days. A few more two atoms were produced the following year.

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) 1.43
Electron affinity (kJ mol−1) <0 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
  289Fl 289.190 - ~ 2.1 s  α 


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 Flerovium Podcast
Transcript :

Chemistry in its element: flerovium

Since this podcast was first published, the name of this element has been ratified as flerovium (symbol Fl) by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (Iupac). The name recognises Russian physicist Georgiy Flerov, who discovered the spontaneous fission of uranium. Flerov also gives his name to the laboratory at the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Dubna, Russia, where the element was first made.


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

(End promo)

Meera Senthilingam

This week we are element spotting with Brian Clegg.

Brian Clegg

It's easy to accuse the scientists who produce new, very heavy elements of being chemistry's train spotters. Just as train spotters spend hours watching for a particular locomotive so they can underline it in their book, it may seem that these chemists laboriously produce an atom or two of a superheavy element as an exercise in ticking the box. But element 114 has provided more than one surprise, showing why such elements are well worth investigating.

This is one of the elements that is still waiting to have a proper name assigned to it, so it remains for the moment ununquadium (just one-one-four-ium in truncated Latin), with the symbol Uuq, until it receives a more aesthetically pleasing label.

Element 114 sits in an island of stability, a position in the periodic table where a spherical nuclear configuration suggests that half lives should be relatively long. That word 'relatively' is important. Where, for instance, darmstadtium, which precedes the island of stability, has a typical half life measured in microseconds, element 114's isotope with atomic mass 289 stays around for seconds at a time.

In principle, there is an isotope of element 114 that should do even better. The expectation, long before 114 was even produced, was that ununquadium 298 should be particularly stable. The nucleus of this isotope would have 114 protons and 184 neutrons, which should provide complete energy levels in the nucleus and hence unusual stability. Ununquadium 298 has a predicted half life that could reach into thousands of years - remarkable for the transfermium elements, which are generally the mayflies of the periodic table.

To date we haven't been able to test this thesis, because no isotope 298 has been produced. The first sighting of element 114 was in 1998 at the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research at Dubna in Russia. This doesn't mean that we can look forward to dubnium as a name for the element, this is already assigned to element 105.

Using a plutonium 244 target, produced by Kenton Moody at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, the team lead by Yuri Oganessian and Vladimir Utyonkov in Dubna took aim with a stream of high energy calcium 48 ions. This rare, but naturally occurring isotope of calcium was blasted into the plutonium for 40 days, during which 5 million trillion ions were shot down the accelerator. Just one, single atom of the isotope 289 of element 114 was discovered, which took 30.4 seconds to decay.

The team at Dubna have since produced tiny quantities of isotopes 286, 287 and 288. Interestingly the half life of 30 seconds for that first atom has never been reproduced - all subsequent ununquadium 289 has had a half life of around 2.6 seconds, leading to speculation that the first experiment produced a special excited state of the nucleus called a nuclear isomer, a state which typical has an extra-long half life.

Unlike many transfermium elements, element 114 was predicted to fit well into its group in the periodic table. It is positioned in group 14, underneath lead. The first great success of the periodic table was Mendeleev's prediction of the existence of elements that had yet to be discovered. There were gaps in his table where he placed elements that he named after the element immediately above. He constructed the names by adding the prefix eka, which is Sanskrit for the number 'one'. So, Mendeleev said, we should have eka-boron, eka-aluminium, eka-manganese and eka-silicon.

Eka-silicon, for instance, is now called germanium and measured up well to Mendeleev's predictions. Similarly, for a long time it was assumed that element 114 would be eka-lead, with properties like that metal. Remarkably, however, although atoms have only been produced in ones and twos, there is some evidence that ununquadium behaves more like a noble gas than a metal.

This concept, still to be fully explored, is based on experiments where the element 114 atoms are passed down a tube with an inner coating of gold. Along the length of the tube, the temperature gradually decreases, dropping from 15 degrees Celsius to a chilly minus 185 degrees, gradually reducing the energy of the atoms passing along, making them easier to capture. The prediction is that a metal with lead-like properties should bind onto the gold easily, so will not get far down the tube. But a noble gas would have to be significantly chilled to undergo adsorption from the weak van der Waals force.

Rather than behaving like lead, element 114 seems to make it to the cold end of the tube before being captured, its position detected when it decays after a second or two. This experiment, conducted by Heinz Gäggeler of the Paul Scherrer Institute in Villigen, Switzerland, but working at Dubna is still only provisional, but the noble gas behaviour may be a result of relativistic effects.

Einstein's special relativity predicts that particles will get heavier and heavier as their velocity gets closer to the speed of light. A particle accelerated to around 42 per cent of the speed of light, for instance, will have a 10 per cent increase in mass. The expectation is that with an unusually high number of protons in the nucleus, the electrons will be moving fast enough to have relativistic effects that change the profile of their orbit, and hence the element's chemical properties.

With such few atoms to experiment with, the result is not yet certain. But something we do know for sure is that ununquadium is not just of interest to chemical train spotters.

Meera Senthilingam

That was science writer and chemical spotter Brian Clegg with the chemistry of element 114. Now next week, a dangerous yet useful element.

Andrea Sella

Because it's so volatile, you need to be really careful when you handle it since if you inhale it, it will decompose releasing poisonous carbon monoxide and dumping metallic nickel into your lungs. So it's very dangerous indeed. But in a way, that's the beauty of it: nickel carbonyl is incredibly fragile. If you heat it up it shakes itself to pieces, and you get both the nickel and the carbon monoxide back. So what Mond had was a deliciously simple way to separate and purify nickel from any other metal. And what is more, he could recycle the carbon monoxide.

Meera Senthilingam

And to find out the uses and chemistry of the pure form of nickel, as well as its compounds, join UCL's Andrea Sella in next week's Chemistry in its element. 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.


Periodic Table of Videos

Created by video journalist Brady Haran working with chemists at The University of Nottingham.