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Chemical Fact Sheet

Astatine

Chemical Abstract Number (CAS #) 7440-68-8
Analytical Methods 200.8 - 6020
Atomic Symbol At

Synopsis from the CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics 92nd Edition 2011-2013

Astatine — (Gr. astatos, unstable), At; at. wt. (210); at. no. 85; m.p. 302 °C; valence probably 1, 3, 5, or 7. Synthesized in 1940 by D. R. Corson, K. R. MacKenzie, and E. Segre at the University of California by bombarding bismuth with alpha particles. The longest-lived isotope, 210At, has a half-life of only 8.1 hours. Thirty-six other isotopes and isomers are now known. Minute quantities of 215At, 218At, and 219At exist in equilibrium in nature with naturally occurring uranium and thorium isotopes, and traces of 217At are in equilibrium with 233U and 239Np resulting from interaction of thorium and uranium with naturally produced neutrons. The total amount of astatine present in the Earth’s crust, however, is probably less than 1 oz. Astatine can be produced by bombarding bismuth with energetic alpha particles to obtain the relatively long-lived 209–211At, which can be distilled from the target by heating it in air. Only about 0.05 μg of astatine has been prepared to date. The “time of flight” mass spectrometer has been used to confirm that this highly radioactive halogen behaves chemically very much like other halogens, particularly iodine. The interhalogen compounds AtI, AtBr, and AtCl are known to form, but it is not yet known if astatine forms diatomic astatine molecules. HAt and CH3At (methyl astatide) have been detected. Astatine is said to be more metallic that iodine, and, like iodine, it probably accumulates in the thyroid gland.


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