Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Technetium was discovered relatively late. Actually it wasn't discovered--it was made. I suppose it was "discovered" that every isotope was radioactive and unstable. And even though some isotopes are relatively mild alpha and beta emitters (not gamma)--special handling precautions are required. So those are two good reasons why technetium chemistry is relatively unexplored. I'm curious about what's still unknown. Look where Tc sits in the Periodic Table: link It sits on the middle leftern edge of the noble metals, many of which are catalytically active. Even manganese lying above and rhenium lying below are catalysts--used mainly for hydrocarbon oxidations. I have some hunches about what technetium could do but I'm keeping them to myself for now.
I'm not saying that technetium's chemistry has been completely ignored--it hasn't. But generations of routine, curiosity-driven experiments have still not been done. Technetium has not been thoroughly interrogated. That is my interest. I do happen to know some rhenium and some osmium chemistries--rhenium is technetium's heavier family member and technetium and osmium are related by what's called a diagonal relation. Of course, any new undiscovered uses for technetium would probably lack commercial utility--who wants to use something touched by a radioactive catalyst? Radioactivity carries enormous stigma--especially for organic life forms. But the world is changing. We are creating artificial life and intelligence in our own image.
How to assess what technetium might be good at?