Technetium
Overview
 
Technetium is the chemical element
Chemical element
A chemical element is a pure chemical substance consisting of one type of atom distinguished by its atomic number, which is the number of protons in its nucleus. Familiar examples of elements include carbon, oxygen, aluminum, iron, copper, gold, mercury, and lead.As of November 2011, 118 elements...

 with atomic number
Atomic number
In chemistry and physics, the atomic number is the number of protons found in the nucleus of an atom and therefore identical to the charge number of the nucleus. It is conventionally represented by the symbol Z. The atomic number uniquely identifies a chemical element...

 43 and symbol Tc. It is the lowest atomic number
Atomic number
In chemistry and physics, the atomic number is the number of protons found in the nucleus of an atom and therefore identical to the charge number of the nucleus. It is conventionally represented by the symbol Z. The atomic number uniquely identifies a chemical element...

 element without any stable isotope
Stable isotope
Stable isotopes are chemical isotopes that may or may not be radioactive, but if radioactive, have half-lives too long to be measured.Only 90 nuclides from the first 40 elements are energetically stable to any kind of decay save proton decay, in theory...

s; every form of it is radioactive. Nearly all technetium is produced synthetically and only minute amounts are found in nature. Naturally occurring technetium occurs as a spontaneous fission product
Fission product
Nuclear fission products are the atomic fragments left after a large atomic nucleus fissions. Typically, a large nucleus like that of uranium fissions by splitting into two smaller nuclei, along with a few neutrons and a large release of energy in the form of heat , gamma rays and neutrinos. The...

 in uranium ore or by neutron capture
Neutron capture
Neutron capture is a kind of nuclear reaction in which an atomic nucleus collides with one or more neutrons and they merge to form a heavier nucleus. Since neutrons have no electric charge they can enter a nucleus more easily than positively charged protons, which are repelled...

 in molybdenum
Molybdenum
Molybdenum , is a Group 6 chemical element with the symbol Mo and atomic number 42. The name is from Neo-Latin Molybdaenum, from Ancient Greek , meaning lead, itself proposed as a loanword from Anatolian Luvian and Lydian languages, since its ores were confused with lead ores...

 ores. The chemical properties of this silvery gray, crystalline transition metal
Transition metal
The term transition metal has two possible meanings:*The IUPAC definition states that a transition metal is "an element whose atom has an incomplete d sub-shell, or which can give rise to cations with an incomplete d sub-shell." Group 12 elements are not transition metals in this definition.*Some...

 are intermediate between rhenium
Rhenium
Rhenium is a chemical element with the symbol Re and atomic number 75. It is a silvery-white, heavy, third-row transition metal in group 7 of the periodic table. With an average concentration of 1 part per billion , rhenium is one of the rarest elements in the Earth's crust. The free element has...

 and manganese
Manganese
Manganese is a chemical element, designated by the symbol Mn. It has the atomic number 25. It is found as a free element in nature , and in many minerals...

.

Many of technetium's properties were predicted by Dmitri Mendeleev
Dmitri Mendeleev
Dmitri Ivanovich Mendeleev , was a Russian chemist and inventor. He is credited as being the creator of the first version of the periodic table of elements...

 before the element was discovered.
Encyclopedia
Technetium is the chemical element
Chemical element
A chemical element is a pure chemical substance consisting of one type of atom distinguished by its atomic number, which is the number of protons in its nucleus. Familiar examples of elements include carbon, oxygen, aluminum, iron, copper, gold, mercury, and lead.As of November 2011, 118 elements...

 with atomic number
Atomic number
In chemistry and physics, the atomic number is the number of protons found in the nucleus of an atom and therefore identical to the charge number of the nucleus. It is conventionally represented by the symbol Z. The atomic number uniquely identifies a chemical element...

 43 and symbol Tc. It is the lowest atomic number
Atomic number
In chemistry and physics, the atomic number is the number of protons found in the nucleus of an atom and therefore identical to the charge number of the nucleus. It is conventionally represented by the symbol Z. The atomic number uniquely identifies a chemical element...

 element without any stable isotope
Stable isotope
Stable isotopes are chemical isotopes that may or may not be radioactive, but if radioactive, have half-lives too long to be measured.Only 90 nuclides from the first 40 elements are energetically stable to any kind of decay save proton decay, in theory...

s; every form of it is radioactive. Nearly all technetium is produced synthetically and only minute amounts are found in nature. Naturally occurring technetium occurs as a spontaneous fission product
Fission product
Nuclear fission products are the atomic fragments left after a large atomic nucleus fissions. Typically, a large nucleus like that of uranium fissions by splitting into two smaller nuclei, along with a few neutrons and a large release of energy in the form of heat , gamma rays and neutrinos. The...

 in uranium ore or by neutron capture
Neutron capture
Neutron capture is a kind of nuclear reaction in which an atomic nucleus collides with one or more neutrons and they merge to form a heavier nucleus. Since neutrons have no electric charge they can enter a nucleus more easily than positively charged protons, which are repelled...

 in molybdenum
Molybdenum
Molybdenum , is a Group 6 chemical element with the symbol Mo and atomic number 42. The name is from Neo-Latin Molybdaenum, from Ancient Greek , meaning lead, itself proposed as a loanword from Anatolian Luvian and Lydian languages, since its ores were confused with lead ores...

 ores. The chemical properties of this silvery gray, crystalline transition metal
Transition metal
The term transition metal has two possible meanings:*The IUPAC definition states that a transition metal is "an element whose atom has an incomplete d sub-shell, or which can give rise to cations with an incomplete d sub-shell." Group 12 elements are not transition metals in this definition.*Some...

 are intermediate between rhenium
Rhenium
Rhenium is a chemical element with the symbol Re and atomic number 75. It is a silvery-white, heavy, third-row transition metal in group 7 of the periodic table. With an average concentration of 1 part per billion , rhenium is one of the rarest elements in the Earth's crust. The free element has...

 and manganese
Manganese
Manganese is a chemical element, designated by the symbol Mn. It has the atomic number 25. It is found as a free element in nature , and in many minerals...

.

Many of technetium's properties were predicted by Dmitri Mendeleev
Dmitri Mendeleev
Dmitri Ivanovich Mendeleev , was a Russian chemist and inventor. He is credited as being the creator of the first version of the periodic table of elements...

 before the element was discovered. Mendeleev noted a gap in his periodic table
Periodic table
The periodic table of the chemical elements is a tabular display of the 118 known chemical elements organized by selected properties of their atomic structures. Elements are presented by increasing atomic number, the number of protons in an atom's atomic nucleus...

 and gave the undiscovered element the provisional name ekamanganese
Mendeleev's predicted elements
Professor Dmitri Mendeleev published the first Periodic Table of the Atomic Elements in 1869 based on properties which appeared with some regularity as he laid out the elements from lightest to heaviest....

(Em). In 1937 technetium (specifically the technetium-97 isotope) became the first predominantly artificial element to be produced, hence its name (from the Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 , meaning "artificial").

Its short-lived gamma ray
Gamma ray
Gamma radiation, also known as gamma rays or hyphenated as gamma-rays and denoted as γ, is electromagnetic radiation of high frequency . Gamma rays are usually naturally produced on Earth by decay of high energy states in atomic nuclei...

-emitting nuclear isomer
Nuclear isomer
A nuclear isomer is a metastable state of an atomic nucleus caused by the excitation of one or more of its nucleons . "Metastable" refers to the fact that these excited states have half-lives more than 100 to 1000 times the half-lives of the other possible excited nuclear states...

technetium-99m
Technetium-99m
Technetium-99m is a metastable nuclear isomer of technetium-99, symbolized as 99mTc. The "m" indicates that this is a metastable nuclear isomer, i.e., that its half-life of 6 hours is considerably longer than most nuclear isomers that undergo gamma decay...

—is used in nuclear medicine
Nuclear medicine
In nuclear medicine procedures, elemental radionuclides are combined with other elements to form chemical compounds, or else combined with existing pharmaceutical compounds, to form radiopharmaceuticals. These radiopharmaceuticals, once administered to the patient, can localize to specific organs...

 for a wide variety of diagnostic tests. Technetium-99 is used as a gamma ray-free source of beta particle
Beta particle
Beta particles are high-energy, high-speed electrons or positrons emitted by certain types of radioactive nuclei such as potassium-40. The beta particles emitted are a form of ionizing radiation also known as beta rays. The production of beta particles is termed beta decay...

s. Long-lived technetium isotopes
Isotopes of technetium
Technetium is the first of the two elements in the first 82 that have no stable isotopes ; the other such element is promethium. It is primarily artificial, only trace quantities existing in nature produced by spontaneous fission or neutron capture by molybdenum...

 produced commercially are by-products of fission
Nuclear fission
In nuclear physics and nuclear chemistry, nuclear fission is a nuclear reaction in which the nucleus of an atom splits into smaller parts , often producing free neutrons and photons , and releasing a tremendous amount of energy...

 of uranium-235
Uranium-235
- References :* .* DOE Fundamentals handbook: Nuclear Physics and Reactor theory , .* A piece of U-235 the size of a grain of rice can produce energy equal to that contained in three tons of coal or fourteen barrels of oil. -External links:* * * one of the earliest articles on U-235 for the...

 in nuclear reactor
Nuclear reactor
A nuclear reactor is a device to initiate and control a sustained nuclear chain reaction. Most commonly they are used for generating electricity and for the propulsion of ships. Usually heat from nuclear fission is passed to a working fluid , which runs through turbines that power either ship's...

s and are extracted from nuclear fuel rod
Nuclear fuel cycle
The nuclear fuel cycle, also called nuclear fuel chain, is the progression of nuclear fuel through a series of differing stages. It consists of steps in the front end, which are the preparation of the fuel, steps in the service period in which the fuel is used during reactor operation, and steps in...

s. Because no isotope of technetium has a half-life
Half-life
Half-life, abbreviated t½, is the period of time it takes for the amount of a substance undergoing decay to decrease by half. The name was originally used to describe a characteristic of unstable atoms , but it may apply to any quantity which follows a set-rate decay.The original term, dating to...

 longer than 4.2 million years (technetium-98), its detection in red giant
Red giant
A red giant is a luminous giant star of low or intermediate mass in a late phase of stellar evolution. The outer atmosphere is inflated and tenuous, making the radius immense and the surface temperature low, somewhere from 5,000 K and lower...

s in 1952, which are billions of years old, helped bolster the theory that stars can produce heavier elements.

Search for element 43

From the 1860s through 1871, early forms of the periodic table proposed by Dimitri Mendeleev contained a gap between molybdenum
Molybdenum
Molybdenum , is a Group 6 chemical element with the symbol Mo and atomic number 42. The name is from Neo-Latin Molybdaenum, from Ancient Greek , meaning lead, itself proposed as a loanword from Anatolian Luvian and Lydian languages, since its ores were confused with lead ores...

 (element 42) and ruthenium
Ruthenium
Ruthenium is a chemical element with symbol Ru and atomic number 44. It is a rare transition metal belonging to the platinum group of the periodic table. Like the other metals of the platinum group, ruthenium is inert to most chemicals. The Russian scientist Karl Ernst Claus discovered the element...

 (element 44). In 1871, Mendeleev predicted this missing element would occupy the empty place below manganese
Manganese
Manganese is a chemical element, designated by the symbol Mn. It has the atomic number 25. It is found as a free element in nature , and in many minerals...

 and therefore have similar chemical properties. Mendeleev gave it the provisional name ekamanganese (eka- from the Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

 words for one), because the predicted element was one place down from the known element manganese.

Many early researchers, both before and after the periodic table was published, were eager to be the first to discover and name the missing element; its location in the table suggested that it should be easier to find than other undiscovered elements. It was first thought to have been found in platinum
Platinum
Platinum is a chemical element with the chemical symbol Pt and an atomic number of 78. Its name is derived from the Spanish term platina del Pinto, which is literally translated into "little silver of the Pinto River." It is a dense, malleable, ductile, precious, gray-white transition metal...

 ores in 1828 and was given the name polinium, but turned out to be impure iridium
Iridium
Iridium is the chemical element with atomic number 77, and is represented by the symbol Ir. A very hard, brittle, silvery-white transition metal of the platinum family, iridium is the second-densest element and is the most corrosion-resistant metal, even at temperatures as high as 2000 °C...

. Then, in 1846, the element ilmenium
Ilmenium
Ilmenium was the proposed name for a new element found by the chemist R. Hermann in 1847. During the analysis of the mineral samarskite he concluded that it does contain an element similar to niobium and tantalum...

was claimed to have been discovered, but later was determined to be impure niobium
Niobium
Niobium or columbium , is a chemical element with the symbol Nb and atomic number 41. It's a soft, grey, ductile transition metal, which is often found in the pyrochlore mineral, the main commercial source for niobium, and columbite...

. This mistake was repeated in 1847 with the "discovery" of pelopium
Pelopium
Pelopium was the proposed name for a new element found by the chemist Heinrich Rose in 1845. The name derived from the Greek king and later god Pelops. During the analysis of the mineral tantalite he concluded that it does contain an element similar to niobium and tantalum...

.

In 1877, the Russian chemist Serge Kern reported discovering the missing element in platinum ore. Kern named what he thought was the new element davyum
Davyum
Davyum was the proposed name for a chemical element found by the chemist Serge Kern in 1877. It was shown that the material was a mixture of iridium and rhodium. In the 1950 it was proposed that the new metal might have contained also rhenium, which was not discovered at the time of Kern....

(after the noted English chemist Sir Humphry Davy
Humphry Davy
Sir Humphry Davy, 1st Baronet FRS MRIA was a British chemist and inventor. He is probably best remembered today for his discoveries of several alkali and alkaline earth metals, as well as contributions to the discoveries of the elemental nature of chlorine and iodine...

), but it was eventually determined to be a mixture of iridium
Iridium
Iridium is the chemical element with atomic number 77, and is represented by the symbol Ir. A very hard, brittle, silvery-white transition metal of the platinum family, iridium is the second-densest element and is the most corrosion-resistant metal, even at temperatures as high as 2000 °C...

, rhodium
Rhodium
Rhodium is a chemical element that is a rare, silvery-white, hard and chemically inert transition metal and a member of the platinum group. It has the chemical symbol Rh and atomic number 45. It is composed of only one isotope, 103Rh. Naturally occurring rhodium is found as the free metal, alloyed...

 and iron
Iron
Iron is a chemical element with the symbol Fe and atomic number 26. It is a metal in the first transition series. It is the most common element forming the planet Earth as a whole, forming much of Earth's outer and inner core. It is the fourth most common element in the Earth's crust...

. Another candidate, lucium
Lucium
Lucium was the proposed name for a new element found by the chemist Prosper Barrière in 1896 in the mineral monazite. But later William Crookes confirmed that the new element was only an impure sample of yttrium....

, followed in 1896, but it was determined to be yttrium
Yttrium
Yttrium is a chemical element with symbol Y and atomic number 39. It is a silvery-metallic transition metal chemically similar to the lanthanides and it has often been classified as a "rare earth element". Yttrium is almost always found combined with the lanthanides in rare earth minerals and is...

. Then in 1908, the Japanese chemist Masataka Ogawa
Masataka Ogawa
was a Japanese chemist known for the discovery of rhenium, which he named nipponium.After graduating from the University of Tokyo, he studied under William Ramsay in London, where he worked on the analysis of the rare mineral thorianite...

 found evidence in the mineral thorianite
Thorianite
Thorianite is a rare mineral, originally discovered by Ananda Coomaraswamy in 1904 as uraninite, but recognized as a new species by Wyndham R. Dunstan. It was so named on account of its high percentage of thorium ; it also contains the oxides of uranium, lanthanum, cerium and didymium...

, which he thought indicated the presence of element 43. Ogawa named the element nipponium, after Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

 (which is Nippon in Japanese). In 2004, H. K Yoshihara used "a record of X-ray spectrum of Ogawa's nipponium sample from thorianite [which] was contained in a photographic plate preserved by his family. The spectrum was read and indicated the absence of the element 43 and the presence of the element 75 (rhenium
Rhenium
Rhenium is a chemical element with the symbol Re and atomic number 75. It is a silvery-white, heavy, third-row transition metal in group 7 of the periodic table. With an average concentration of 1 part per billion , rhenium is one of the rarest elements in the Earth's crust. The free element has...

)."

German chemists Walter Noddack
Walter Noddack
Walter Noddack was a German chemist. He, Ida Tacke , and Otto Berg reported the discovery of element 43 and element 75 in 1925.-Rhenium:...

, Otto Berg
Otto Berg (scientist)
Otto Berg was a German scientist. He is one of the scientists credited with discovering rhenium, the next-to-last naturally occurring element to be discovered and the last element to be discovered having a stable isotope.-Rhenium:...

, and Ida Tacke reported the discovery of element 75 and element 43 in 1925, and named element 43 masurium (after Masuria
Masuria
Masuria is an area in northeastern Poland famous for its 2,000 lakes. Geographically, Masuria is part of two adjacent lakeland districts, the Masurian Lake District and the Iława Lake District...

 in eastern Prussia
Prussia
Prussia was a German kingdom and historic state originating out of the Duchy of Prussia and the Margraviate of Brandenburg. For centuries, the House of Hohenzollern ruled Prussia, successfully expanding its size by way of an unusually well-organized and effective army. Prussia shaped the history...

, now in Poland
Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

, the region where Walter Noddack's family originated). The group bombarded columbite with a beam of electron
Electron
The electron is a subatomic particle with a negative elementary electric charge. It has no known components or substructure; in other words, it is generally thought to be an elementary particle. An electron has a mass that is approximately 1/1836 that of the proton...

s and deduced element 43 was present by examining X-ray
X-ray
X-radiation is a form of electromagnetic radiation. X-rays have a wavelength in the range of 0.01 to 10 nanometers, corresponding to frequencies in the range 30 petahertz to 30 exahertz and energies in the range 120 eV to 120 keV. They are shorter in wavelength than UV rays and longer than gamma...

 diffraction spectrogram
Spectrogram
A spectrogram is a time-varying spectral representation that shows how the spectral density of a signal varies with time. Also known as spectral waterfalls, sonograms, voiceprints, or voicegrams, spectrograms are used to identify phonetic sounds, to analyse the cries of animals; they were also...

s. The wavelength
Wavelength
In physics, the wavelength of a sinusoidal wave is the spatial period of the wave—the distance over which the wave's shape repeats.It is usually determined by considering the distance between consecutive corresponding points of the same phase, such as crests, troughs, or zero crossings, and is a...

 of the X-rays produced is related to the atomic number by a formula derived by Henry Moseley
Henry Moseley
Henry Gwyn Jeffreys Moseley was an English physicist. Moseley's outstanding contribution to the science of physics was the justification from physical laws of the previous empirical and chemical concept of the atomic number. This stemmed from his development of Moseley's law in X-ray spectra...

 in 1913. The team claimed to detect a faint X-ray signal at a wavelength produced by element 43. Later experimenters could not replicate the discovery, and it was dismissed as an error for many years. Still, in 1933, a series of articles on the discovery of elements quoted the name masurium for element 43.In 1998 John T. Armstrong of the National Institute of Standards and Technology
National Institute of Standards and Technology
The National Institute of Standards and Technology , known between 1901 and 1988 as the National Bureau of Standards , is a measurement standards laboratory, otherwise known as a National Metrological Institute , which is a non-regulatory agency of the United States Department of Commerce...

 ran "computer simulations" of the 1925 experiments and obtained results quite close to those reported by the Noddack team. "Using first-principles X-ray-emission spectral-generation algorithms developed at NIST, I simulated the X-ray spectra that would be expected for Van Assche's initial estimates of the Noddacks' residue compositions. The first results were surprisingly close to their published spectrum! Over the next couple of years, we refined our reconstruction of their analytical methods and performed more sophisticated simulations. The agreement between simulated and reported spectra improved further. Our calculation of the amount of element 43 required to produce their spectrum is quite similar to the direct measurements of natural technetium abundance in uranium ore published in 1999 by Dave Curtis and colleagues at Los Alamos. We can find no other plausible explanation for the Noddacks' data than that they did indeed detect fission "masurium."
Debate still exists as to whether the 1925 team actually did discover element 43.

Official discovery and later history

The discovery of element 43 was finally confirmed in a December 1936 experiment at the University of Palermo
University of Palermo
The University of Palermo is a university located in Palermo, Italy, and founded in 1806. It is organized in 12 Faculties.-History:The University of Palermo was officially founded in 1806, although its earliest roots date back to 1498 when medicine and law were taught there...

 in Sicily conducted by Carlo Perrier
Carlo Perrier
Carlo Perrier was an Italian mineralogist who did extensive research on the element technetium in 1936. He discovered the element along with his colleague, Emilio Segrè , in 1937....

 and Emilio Segrè. In mid-1936, Segrè visited the United States, first Columbia University
Columbia University
Columbia University in the City of New York is a private, Ivy League university in Manhattan, New York City. Columbia is the oldest institution of higher learning in the state of New York, the fifth oldest in the United States, and one of the country's nine Colonial Colleges founded before the...

 in New York and then the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory , is a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory conducting unclassified scientific research. It is located on the grounds of the University of California, Berkeley, in the Berkeley Hills above the central campus...

 in California. He persuaded cyclotron
Cyclotron
In technology, a cyclotron is a type of particle accelerator. In physics, the cyclotron frequency or gyrofrequency is the frequency of a charged particle moving perpendicularly to the direction of a uniform magnetic field, i.e. a magnetic field of constant magnitude and direction...

 inventor Ernest Lawrence
Ernest Lawrence
Ernest Orlando Lawrence was an American physicist and Nobel Laureate, known for his invention, utilization, and improvement of the cyclotron atom-smasher beginning in 1929, based on his studies of the works of Rolf Widerøe, and his later work in uranium-isotope separation for the Manhattan Project...

 to let him take back some discarded cyclotron parts that had become radioactive. Lawrence mailed him a molybdenum foil that had been part of the deflector in the cyclotron.

Segrè enlisted his colleague Perrier to attempt to prove, through comparative chemistry, that the molybdenum activity was indeed Z = 43. They succeeded in isolating the isotope
Isotope
Isotopes are variants of atoms of a particular chemical element, which have differing numbers of neutrons. Atoms of a particular element by definition must contain the same number of protons but may have a distinct number of neutrons which differs from atom to atom, without changing the designation...

s technetium-95 and technetium-97. University of Palermo officials wanted them to name their discovery "panormium", after the Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 name for Palermo
Palermo
Palermo is a city in Southern Italy, the capital of both the autonomous region of Sicily and the Province of Palermo. The city is noted for its history, culture, architecture and gastronomy, playing an important role throughout much of its existence; it is over 2,700 years old...

, Panormus. In 1947 element 43 was named after the Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 word τεχνητός, meaning "artificial", since it was the first element to be artificially produced. Segrè returned to Berkeley and met Glenn T. Seaborg
Glenn T. Seaborg
Glenn Theodore Seaborg was an American scientist who won the 1951 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for "discoveries in the chemistry of the transuranium elements", contributed to the discovery and isolation of ten elements, and developed the actinide concept, which led to the current arrangement of the...

. They isolated the metastable isotope technetium-99m
Technetium-99m
Technetium-99m is a metastable nuclear isomer of technetium-99, symbolized as 99mTc. The "m" indicates that this is a metastable nuclear isomer, i.e., that its half-life of 6 hours is considerably longer than most nuclear isomers that undergo gamma decay...

, which is now used in some ten million medical diagnostic procedures annually.

In 1952, astronomer Paul W. Merrill
Paul W. Merrill
Paul Willard Merrill was an American astronomer whose specialty was spectroscopy.He received his Ph.D at the University of California in 1913. He spent the bulk of his career at Mount Wilson Observatory, from which he retired in 1952...

 in California detected the spectral signature
Emission spectrum
The emission spectrum of a chemical element or chemical compound is the spectrum of frequencies of electromagnetic radiation emitted by the element's atoms or the compound's molecules when they are returned to a lower energy state....

 of technetium (in particular, light with wavelength
Wavelength
In physics, the wavelength of a sinusoidal wave is the spatial period of the wave—the distance over which the wave's shape repeats.It is usually determined by considering the distance between consecutive corresponding points of the same phase, such as crests, troughs, or zero crossings, and is a...

 of 403.1 nm
Nanometre
A nanometre is a unit of length in the metric system, equal to one billionth of a metre. The name combines the SI prefix nano- with the parent unit name metre .The nanometre is often used to express dimensions on the atomic scale: the diameter...

, 423.8 nm, 426.2 nm, and 429.7 nm) in light from S-type red giant
Red giant
A red giant is a luminous giant star of low or intermediate mass in a late phase of stellar evolution. The outer atmosphere is inflated and tenuous, making the radius immense and the surface temperature low, somewhere from 5,000 K and lower...

s. The stars were near the end of their lives, yet were rich in this short-lived element, meaning nuclear reaction
Nuclear reaction
In nuclear physics and nuclear chemistry, a nuclear reaction is semantically considered to be the process in which two nuclei, or else a nucleus of an atom and a subatomic particle from outside the atom, collide to produce products different from the initial particles...

s within the stars must be producing it. This evidence was used to bolster the then-unproven theory that stars are where nucleosynthesis
Nucleosynthesis
Nucleosynthesis is the process of creating new atomic nuclei from pre-existing nucleons . It is thought that the primordial nucleons themselves were formed from the quark–gluon plasma from the Big Bang as it cooled below two trillion degrees...

 of the heavier elements occurs. More recently, such observations provided evidence that elements were being formed by neutron capture
Neutron capture
Neutron capture is a kind of nuclear reaction in which an atomic nucleus collides with one or more neutrons and they merge to form a heavier nucleus. Since neutrons have no electric charge they can enter a nucleus more easily than positively charged protons, which are repelled...

 in the s-process
S-process
The S-process or slow-neutron-capture-process is a nucleosynthesis process that occurs at relatively low neutron density and intermediate temperature conditions in stars. Under these conditions the rate of neutron capture by atomic nuclei is slow relative to the rate of radioactive beta-minus decay...

.

Since its discovery, there have been many searches in terrestrial materials for natural sources of technetium. In 1962, technetium-99 was isolated and identified in pitchblende
Uraninite
Uraninite is a radioactive, uranium-rich mineral and ore with a chemical composition that is largely UO2, but also contains UO3 and oxides of lead, thorium, and rare earth elements...

 from the Belgian Congo
Belgian Congo
The Belgian Congo was the formal title of present-day Democratic Republic of the Congo between King Leopold II's formal relinquishment of his personal control over the state to Belgium on 15 November 1908, and Congolese independence on 30 June 1960.-Congo Free State, 1884–1908:Until the latter...

 in extremely small quantities (about 0.2 ng/kg); there it originates as a spontaneous fission
Spontaneous fission
Spontaneous fission is a form of radioactive decay characteristic of very heavy isotopes. Because the nuclear binding energy reaches a maximum at a nuclear mass greater than about 60 atomic mass units , spontaneous breakdown into smaller nuclei and single particles becomes possible at heavier masses...

 product of uranium-238
Uranium-238
Uranium-238 is the most common isotope of uranium found in nature. It is not fissile, but is a fertile material: it can capture a slow neutron and after two beta decays become fissile plutonium-239...

. There is also evidence that the Oklo
Oklo
Oklo is a region near the town of Franceville, in the Haut-Ogooué province of the Central African state of Gabon. Several natural nuclear fission reactors were discovered in the uranium mines in the region in 1972.-History:...

 natural nuclear fission reactor
Natural nuclear fission reactor
A natural nuclear fission reactor is a uranium deposit where analysis of isotope ratios has shown that self-sustaining nuclear chain reactions have occurred. The existence of this phenomenon was discovered in 1972 at Oklo in Gabon, Africa, by French physicist Francis Perrin. The conditions under...

 produced significant amounts of technetium-99, which has since decayed into ruthenium-99.

Physical properties

Technetium is a silvery-gray radioactive metal
Metal
A metal , is an element, compound, or alloy that is a good conductor of both electricity and heat. Metals are usually malleable and shiny, that is they reflect most of incident light...

 with an appearance similar to that of platinum
Platinum
Platinum is a chemical element with the chemical symbol Pt and an atomic number of 78. Its name is derived from the Spanish term platina del Pinto, which is literally translated into "little silver of the Pinto River." It is a dense, malleable, ductile, precious, gray-white transition metal...

. It is commonly obtained as a gray powder. The crystal structure
Crystal structure
In mineralogy and crystallography, crystal structure is a unique arrangement of atoms or molecules in a crystalline liquid or solid. A crystal structure is composed of a pattern, a set of atoms arranged in a particular way, and a lattice exhibiting long-range order and symmetry...

 of the pure metal is hexagonal
Hexagonal crystal system
In crystallography, the hexagonal crystal system is one of the 7 crystal systems, the hexagonal lattice system is one of the 7 lattice systems, and the hexagonal crystal family is one of the 6 crystal families...

 close-packed. Atomic technetium has characteristic emission line
Emission spectrum
The emission spectrum of a chemical element or chemical compound is the spectrum of frequencies of electromagnetic radiation emitted by the element's atoms or the compound's molecules when they are returned to a lower energy state....

s at these wavelength
Wavelength
In physics, the wavelength of a sinusoidal wave is the spatial period of the wave—the distance over which the wave's shape repeats.It is usually determined by considering the distance between consecutive corresponding points of the same phase, such as crests, troughs, or zero crossings, and is a...

s of light: 363.3 nm
Nanometre
A nanometre is a unit of length in the metric system, equal to one billionth of a metre. The name combines the SI prefix nano- with the parent unit name metre .The nanometre is often used to express dimensions on the atomic scale: the diameter...

, 403.1 nm, 426.2 nm, 429.7 nm, and 485.3 nm.

The metal form is slightly paramagnetic
Paramagnetism
Paramagnetism is a form of magnetism whereby the paramagnetic material is only attracted when in the presence of an externally applied magnetic field. In contrast with this, diamagnetic materials are repulsive when placed in a magnetic field...

, meaning its magnetic dipole
Dipole
In physics, there are several kinds of dipoles:*An electric dipole is a separation of positive and negative charges. The simplest example of this is a pair of electric charges of equal magnitude but opposite sign, separated by some distance. A permanent electric dipole is called an electret.*A...

s align with external magnetic field
Magnetic field
A magnetic field is a mathematical description of the magnetic influence of electric currents and magnetic materials. The magnetic field at any given point is specified by both a direction and a magnitude ; as such it is a vector field.Technically, a magnetic field is a pseudo vector;...

s, but will assume random orientations once the field is removed. Pure, metallic, single-crystal technetium becomes a type-II superconductor
Type-II superconductor
A Type-II superconductor is a superconductor characterized by the formation of vortex lattices in magnetic field. It has a continuous second order phase transition from the superconducting to the normal state within an increasing magnetic field....

 at temperatures below 7.46 K
Kelvin
The kelvin is a unit of measurement for temperature. It is one of the seven base units in the International System of Units and is assigned the unit symbol K. The Kelvin scale is an absolute, thermodynamic temperature scale using as its null point absolute zero, the temperature at which all...

.Irregular crystals and trace impurities raise this transition temperature to 11.2 K for 99.9% pure technetium powder. Below this temperature, technetium has a very high magnetic penetration depth
London penetration depth
In superconductors, the London penetration depth characterizes the distance to which a magnetic field penetrates into a superconductor and becomes equal to 1/e times that of the magnetic field at the surface of the superconductor...

, the largest among the elements apart from niobium
Niobium
Niobium or columbium , is a chemical element with the symbol Nb and atomic number 41. It's a soft, grey, ductile transition metal, which is often found in the pyrochlore mineral, the main commercial source for niobium, and columbite...

.

Chemical properties

Technetium is placed in the seventh group
Group 7 element
A Group 7 element is one in the series of elements in group 7 in the periodic table, which consists of manganese , technetium , rhenium , and bohrium...

 of the periodic table, between rhenium
Rhenium
Rhenium is a chemical element with the symbol Re and atomic number 75. It is a silvery-white, heavy, third-row transition metal in group 7 of the periodic table. With an average concentration of 1 part per billion , rhenium is one of the rarest elements in the Earth's crust. The free element has...

 and manganese
Manganese
Manganese is a chemical element, designated by the symbol Mn. It has the atomic number 25. It is found as a free element in nature , and in many minerals...

. As predicted by periodic law
History of the periodic table
The history of the periodic table reflects over a century of growth in the understanding of chemical properties, and culminates with the publication of the first actual periodic table by Dmitri Mendeleev in 1869...

, its chemical properties are therefore intermediate between those two elements. Of the two, technetium more closely resembles rhenium, particularly in its chemical inertness and tendency to form covalent bond
Covalent bond
A covalent bond is a form of chemical bonding that is characterized by the sharing of pairs of electrons between atoms. The stable balance of attractive and repulsive forces between atoms when they share electrons is known as covalent bonding....

s. Unlike manganese, technetium does not readily form cations (ion
Ion
An ion is an atom or molecule in which the total number of electrons is not equal to the total number of protons, giving it a net positive or negative electrical charge. The name was given by physicist Michael Faraday for the substances that allow a current to pass between electrodes in a...

s with a net positive charge). Common oxidation states
Oxidation number
In coordination chemistry, the oxidation number of a central atom in a coordination compound is the charge that it would have if all the ligands were removed along with the electron pairs that were shared with the central atom. Oxidation numbers are often confused with oxidation states.The...

 of technetium include +4, +5, and +7. Technetium dissolves in aqua regia
Aqua regia
Aqua regia or aqua regis is a highly corrosive mixture of acids, fuming yellow or red solution, also called nitro-hydrochloric acid. The mixture is formed by freshly mixing concentrated nitric acid and hydrochloric acid, usually in a volume ratio of 1:3, respectively...

, nitric acid
Nitric acid
Nitric acid , also known as aqua fortis and spirit of nitre, is a highly corrosive and toxic strong acid.Colorless when pure, older samples tend to acquire a yellow cast due to the accumulation of oxides of nitrogen. If the solution contains more than 86% nitric acid, it is referred to as fuming...

, and concentrated sulfuric acid
Sulfuric acid
Sulfuric acid is a strong mineral acid with the molecular formula . Its historical name is oil of vitriol. Pure sulfuric acid is a highly corrosive, colorless, viscous liquid. The salts of sulfuric acid are called sulfates...

, but it is not soluble in hydrochloric acid
Hydrochloric acid
Hydrochloric acid is a solution of hydrogen chloride in water, that is a highly corrosive, strong mineral acid with many industrial uses. It is found naturally in gastric acid....

 of any concentration.

Hydride and oxides

Reaction of technetium with hydrogen
Hydrogen
Hydrogen is the chemical element with atomic number 1. It is represented by the symbol H. With an average atomic weight of , hydrogen is the lightest and most abundant chemical element, constituting roughly 75% of the Universe's chemical elemental mass. Stars in the main sequence are mainly...

 produces the negatively charged hydride
Hydride
In chemistry, a hydride is the anion of hydrogen, H−, or, more commonly, a compound in which one or more hydrogen centres have nucleophilic, reducing, or basic properties. In compounds that are regarded as hydrides, hydrogen is bonded to a more electropositive element or group...

 [TcH9]2− ion, which has the same type of crystal structure
Crystal structure
In mineralogy and crystallography, crystal structure is a unique arrangement of atoms or molecules in a crystalline liquid or solid. A crystal structure is composed of a pattern, a set of atoms arranged in a particular way, and a lattice exhibiting long-range order and symmetry...

 as (isostructural with) [ReH9]2−. It consists of a trigonal prism with a technetium atom in the center and six hydrogen atom
Hydrogen atom
A hydrogen atom is an atom of the chemical element hydrogen. The electrically neutral atom contains a single positively-charged proton and a single negatively-charged electron bound to the nucleus by the Coulomb force...

s at the corners. Three more hydrogens make a triangle lying parallel to the base and crossing the prism in its center. Although those hydrogen atoms are not equivalent geometrically, their electronic structure is almost the same. This complex has a coordination number
Coordination number
In chemistry and crystallography, the coordination number of a central atom in a molecule or crystal is the number of its nearest neighbours. This number is determined somewhat differently for molecules and for crystals....

 of 9 (meaning that the Tc atom has nine neighbors), which is the highest for a technetium complex. Two hydrogen atoms in the complex can be replaced by sodium (Na+) or potassium (K+) ions.

The metal form of technetium slowly tarnish
Tarnish
Tarnish is a thin layer of corrosion that forms over copper, brass, silver, aluminum, and other similar metals as their outermost layer undergoes a chemical reaction. Tarnish does not always result from the sole effects of oxygen in the air. For example, silver needs hydrogen sulfide to tarnish; it...

es in moist air, and in powder form will burn in oxygen
Oxygen
Oxygen is the element with atomic number 8 and represented by the symbol O. Its name derives from the Greek roots ὀξύς and -γενής , because at the time of naming, it was mistakenly thought that all acids required oxygen in their composition...

. Two oxide
Oxide
An oxide is a chemical compound that contains at least one oxygen atom in its chemical formula. Metal oxides typically contain an anion of oxygen in the oxidation state of −2....

s have been observed: TcO2 and Tc2O7. Under oxidizing
Redox
Redox reactions describe all chemical reactions in which atoms have their oxidation state changed....

 conditions, which tend to strip electrons from atoms, technetium(VII) will exist as the pertechnetate
Pertechnetate
The pertechnetate ion is an oxoanion with the chemical formula TcO4−. It is often used as a convenient water-soluble source of isotopes of the radioactive element technetium...

 ion
Ion
An ion is an atom or molecule in which the total number of electrons is not equal to the total number of protons, giving it a net positive or negative electrical charge. The name was given by physicist Michael Faraday for the substances that allow a current to pass between electrodes in a...

, .

At temperatures of 400–450 °C, technetium oxidizes to form pale-yellow heptoxide:
4 Tc + 7 O2 → 2 Tc2O7

It adopts a centrosymmetric
Centrosymmetry
The term centrosymmetric, as generally used in crystallography, refers to a space group which contains an inversion center as one of its symmetry elements. In such a space group, for every point in the unit cell there is an indistinguishable point...

 structure with two types of Tc-O bonds; their bond lengths are 167 and 184 pm, and the O-Tc-O angle is 180°.

Technetium heptoxide is the precursor to sodium pertechnetate
Sodium pertechnetate
Sodium pertechnetate is the inorganic compound with the formula NaTcO4. This colourless salt consists of the anion [TcO4]−. The radioactive 99mTcO4− anion is an important radiopharmaceutical for diagnostic use...

:
Tc2O7 + 2 NaOH → 2 NaTcO4 + H2O

Black-colored technetium dioxide (TcO2) can be produced by reduction of heptoxide with technetium or hydrogen.

Pertechnetic acid
Pertechnetic acid
Technetium oxide is the chemical compound with the formula Tc2O7. This yellow volatile solid is a rare example of a molecular binary metal oxide, the other examples being RuO4, OsO4, and the unstable Mn2O7...

 (HTcO4) is produced by reacting Tc2O7 with water or oxidizing acid
Oxidizing acid
An oxidizing acid is a Brønsted acid that is also a strong oxidizing agent . All Brønsted acids can act as moderately strong oxidizing agents, because the acidic proton can be reduced to hydrogen gas. Some acids contain other structures that act as stronger oxidizing agents than hydrogen....

s, such as nitric acid
Nitric acid
Nitric acid , also known as aqua fortis and spirit of nitre, is a highly corrosive and toxic strong acid.Colorless when pure, older samples tend to acquire a yellow cast due to the accumulation of oxides of nitrogen. If the solution contains more than 86% nitric acid, it is referred to as fuming...

, concentrated sulfuric acid
Sulfuric acid
Sulfuric acid is a strong mineral acid with the molecular formula . Its historical name is oil of vitriol. Pure sulfuric acid is a highly corrosive, colorless, viscous liquid. The salts of sulfuric acid are called sulfates...

, aqua regia
Aqua regia
Aqua regia or aqua regis is a highly corrosive mixture of acids, fuming yellow or red solution, also called nitro-hydrochloric acid. The mixture is formed by freshly mixing concentrated nitric acid and hydrochloric acid, usually in a volume ratio of 1:3, respectively...

, or a mixture of nitric and hydrochloric acids. The resulting dark red, hygroscopic
Hygroscopy
Hygroscopy is the ability of a substance to attract and hold water molecules from the surrounding environment. This is achieved through either absorption or adsorption with the absorbing or adsorbing material becoming physically 'changed,' somewhat, by an increase in volume, stickiness, or other...

 (water absorbing) substance is a strong acid and easily donates protons. In concentrated sulfuric acid
Sulfuric acid
Sulfuric acid is a strong mineral acid with the molecular formula . Its historical name is oil of vitriol. Pure sulfuric acid is a highly corrosive, colorless, viscous liquid. The salts of sulfuric acid are called sulfates...

 Tc(VII) tetraoxidotechnetate anion converts to the octahedral form of technetic(VII) acid TcO3(OH)(H2O)2.

The pertechnate (tetroxidotechnetate) anion TcO4 consists of a tetrahedron
Tetrahedron
In geometry, a tetrahedron is a polyhedron composed of four triangular faces, three of which meet at each vertex. A regular tetrahedron is one in which the four triangles are regular, or "equilateral", and is one of the Platonic solids...

 with oxygens in the corners and Tc atom in the center. Unlike permanganate
Permanganate
A permanganate is the general name for a chemical compound containing the manganate ion, . Because manganese is in the +7 oxidation state, the permanganate ion is a strong oxidizing agent. The ion has tetrahedral geometry...

 (MnO4), it is only a weak oxidizing agent. Pertechnate is often used as a convenient water-soluble source of Tc isotopes, such as 99mTc, and as a catalyst.

Sulfides, selenides, tellurides

Technetium forms various sulfide
Sulfide
A sulfide is an anion of sulfur in its lowest oxidation state of 2-. Sulfide is also a slightly archaic term for thioethers, a common type of organosulfur compound that are well known for their bad odors.- Properties :...

s. TcS2 is obtained by direct reaction of technetium and elemental sulfur
Sulfur
Sulfur or sulphur is the chemical element with atomic number 16. In the periodic table it is represented by the symbol S. It is an abundant, multivalent non-metal. Under normal conditions, sulfur atoms form cyclic octatomic molecules with chemical formula S8. Elemental sulfur is a bright yellow...

, while Tc2S7 is formed from the pertechnic acid as follows:
2 HTcO4 + 7 H2S → Tc2S7 + 8 H2O


In this reaction technetium is reduced
Redox
Redox reactions describe all chemical reactions in which atoms have their oxidation state changed....

 to Tc(IV) while exess sulfur forms a disulfide ligand. The produced technetium heptasulfide has a polymeric structure (Tc33–S)(S2)3S6)n with a core similar to Mo33–S)(S2)62–.

Upon heating, technetium heptasulfide decomposes into disulfide and elementary sulfur:
Tc2S7 → 2 TcS2 + 3 S


Analogous reactions occur with selenium
Selenium
Selenium is a chemical element with atomic number 34, chemical symbol Se, and an atomic mass of 78.96. It is a nonmetal, whose properties are intermediate between those of adjacent chalcogen elements sulfur and tellurium...

 and tellurium.

Clusters and organic complexes

Several technetium clusters are known, including Tc4, Tc6, Tc8 and Tc13. The more stable Tc6 and Tc8 clusters have prism shapes where vertical pairs of Tc atoms are connected by triple bonds and the planar atoms by single bonds. Every Tc atom makes six bonds, and the remaining valence electrons can be saturated by one axial and two bridging ligand
Bridging ligand
A bridging ligand is a ligand that connects two or more atoms, usually metal ions. The ligand may be atomic or polyatomic. Virtually all complex organic compounds can serve as bridging ligands, so the term is usually restricted to small ligands such as pseudohalides or to ligands that are...

 halogen atoms such as chlorine
Chlorine
Chlorine is the chemical element with atomic number 17 and symbol Cl. It is the second lightest halogen, found in the periodic table in group 17. The element forms diatomic molecules under standard conditions, called dichlorine...

 or bromine
Bromine
Bromine ") is a chemical element with the symbol Br, an atomic number of 35, and an atomic mass of 79.904. It is in the halogen element group. The element was isolated independently by two chemists, Carl Jacob Löwig and Antoine Jerome Balard, in 1825–1826...

.

Technetium forms numerous organic complexes, which are relatively well-investigated because of their importance for nuclear medicine. Technetium carbonyl (Tc2(CO)10) is a white solid. In this molecule, two technetium atoms are weakly bound to each other; each atom is surrounded by octahedra of five carbonyl ligands. The bond length between Tc atoms, 303 pm, is significantly larger than the distance between two atoms in metallic technetium (272 pm). Similar carbonyl
Carbonyl
In organic chemistry, a carbonyl group is a functional group composed of a carbon atom double-bonded to an oxygen atom: C=O. It is common to several classes of organic compounds, as part of many larger functional groups....

s are formed by manganese and rhenium.

A technetium complex3,3,9,9-tetramethyl-4,8-diazaundecane-2,lO-dion dioxime Hexamethyipropyleneamine Oxime (HMPAO) with an organic ligand (shown in the figure on right) is commonly used in nuclear medicine. It has a unique Tc-O functional group
Functional group
In organic chemistry, functional groups are specific groups of atoms within molecules that are responsible for the characteristic chemical reactions of those molecules. The same functional group will undergo the same or similar chemical reaction regardless of the size of the molecule it is a part of...

 (moiety) oriented perpendicularly to the plane of the molecule, where the oxygen atom can be replaced by a nitrogen atom.

Isotopes

Technetium, atomic number
Atomic number
In chemistry and physics, the atomic number is the number of protons found in the nucleus of an atom and therefore identical to the charge number of the nucleus. It is conventionally represented by the symbol Z. The atomic number uniquely identifies a chemical element...

 (Z) 43, is the lowest-numbered element in the periodic table that is exclusively radioactive. The second-lightest radioactive element, promethium
Promethium
Promethium is a chemical element with the symbol Pm and atomic number 61. It is notable for being the only exclusively radioactive element besides technetium that is followed by chemical elements with stable isotopes.- Prediction :...

, has an atomic number of 61. Atomic nuclei
Atomic nucleus
The nucleus is the very dense region consisting of protons and neutrons at the center of an atom. It was discovered in 1911, as a result of Ernest Rutherford's interpretation of the famous 1909 Rutherford experiment performed by Hans Geiger and Ernest Marsden, under the direction of Rutherford. The...

 with an odd number of proton
Proton
The proton is a subatomic particle with the symbol or and a positive electric charge of 1 elementary charge. One or more protons are present in the nucleus of each atom, along with neutrons. The number of protons in each atom is its atomic number....

s are less stable than those with even numbers, even when the total number of nucleon
Nucleon
In physics, a nucleon is a collective name for two particles: the neutron and the proton. These are the two constituents of the atomic nucleus. Until the 1960s, the nucleons were thought to be elementary particles...

s (protons + neutron
Neutron
The neutron is a subatomic hadron particle which has the symbol or , no net electric charge and a mass slightly larger than that of a proton. With the exception of hydrogen, nuclei of atoms consist of protons and neutrons, which are therefore collectively referred to as nucleons. The number of...

s) are even. Odd numbered elements therefore have fewer stable isotope
Isotope
Isotopes are variants of atoms of a particular chemical element, which have differing numbers of neutrons. Atoms of a particular element by definition must contain the same number of protons but may have a distinct number of neutrons which differs from atom to atom, without changing the designation...

s.

The most stable radioactive isotope
Radionuclide
A radionuclide is an atom with an unstable nucleus, which is a nucleus characterized by excess energy available to be imparted either to a newly created radiation particle within the nucleus or to an atomic electron. The radionuclide, in this process, undergoes radioactive decay, and emits gamma...

s are technetium-98 with a half-life
Half-life
Half-life, abbreviated t½, is the period of time it takes for the amount of a substance undergoing decay to decrease by half. The name was originally used to describe a characteristic of unstable atoms , but it may apply to any quantity which follows a set-rate decay.The original term, dating to...

 of 4.2 million years (Ma), technetium-97 (half-life: 2.6 Ma) and technetium-99 (half-life: 211,000 years). Thirty other radioisotopes have been characterized with mass number
Mass number
The mass number , also called atomic mass number or nucleon number, is the total number of protons and neutrons in an atomic nucleus. Because protons and neutrons both are baryons, the mass number A is identical with the baryon number B as of the nucleus as of the whole atom or ion...

s ranging from 85 to 118. Most of these have half-lives that are less than an hour; the exceptions are technetium-93 (half-life: 2.73 hours), technetium-94 (half-life: 4.88 hours), technetium-95 (half-life: 20 hours), and technetium-96 (half-life: 4.3 days).

The primary decay mode for isotopes lighter than technetium-98 is electron capture
Electron capture
Electron capture is a process in which a proton-rich nuclide absorbs an inner atomic electron and simultaneously emits a neutrino...

, giving molybdenum
Molybdenum
Molybdenum , is a Group 6 chemical element with the symbol Mo and atomic number 42. The name is from Neo-Latin Molybdaenum, from Ancient Greek , meaning lead, itself proposed as a loanword from Anatolian Luvian and Lydian languages, since its ores were confused with lead ores...

 (Z
Atomic number
In chemistry and physics, the atomic number is the number of protons found in the nucleus of an atom and therefore identical to the charge number of the nucleus. It is conventionally represented by the symbol Z. The atomic number uniquely identifies a chemical element...

=42). For heavier isotopes, the primary mode is beta emission
Beta decay
In nuclear physics, beta decay is a type of radioactive decay in which a beta particle is emitted from an atom. There are two types of beta decay: beta minus and beta plus. In the case of beta decay that produces an electron emission, it is referred to as beta minus , while in the case of a...

 (the loss of an electron
Electron
The electron is a subatomic particle with a negative elementary electric charge. It has no known components or substructure; in other words, it is generally thought to be an elementary particle. An electron has a mass that is approximately 1/1836 that of the proton...

 or positron
Positron
The positron or antielectron is the antiparticle or the antimatter counterpart of the electron. The positron has an electric charge of +1e, a spin of ½, and has the same mass as an electron...

), giving ruthenium
Ruthenium
Ruthenium is a chemical element with symbol Ru and atomic number 44. It is a rare transition metal belonging to the platinum group of the periodic table. Like the other metals of the platinum group, ruthenium is inert to most chemicals. The Russian scientist Karl Ernst Claus discovered the element...

 (Z=44), with the exception that technetium-100 can decay both by beta emission and electron capture.

Technetium also has numerous nuclear isomer
Nuclear isomer
A nuclear isomer is a metastable state of an atomic nucleus caused by the excitation of one or more of its nucleons . "Metastable" refers to the fact that these excited states have half-lives more than 100 to 1000 times the half-lives of the other possible excited nuclear states...

s, which are isotopes with one or more excited
Excited state
Excitation is an elevation in energy level above an arbitrary baseline energy state. In physics there is a specific technical definition for energy level which is often associated with an atom being excited to an excited state....

 nucleons. Technetium-97m (97mTc ; 'm' stands for metastability
Metastability
Metastability describes the extended duration of certain equilibria acquired by complex systems when leaving their most stable state after an external action....

) is the most stable, with a half-life of 91 days (0.0965 MeV). This is followed by technetium-95m (half-life: 61 days, 0.03 MeV), and technetium-99m (half-life: 6.01 hours, 0.142 MeV). Technetium-99m only emits gamma ray
Gamma ray
Gamma radiation, also known as gamma rays or hyphenated as gamma-rays and denoted as γ, is electromagnetic radiation of high frequency . Gamma rays are usually naturally produced on Earth by decay of high energy states in atomic nuclei...

s and decays to technetium-99.

Technetium-99 is a major product of the fission of uranium-235 , making it the most common and most readily available Tc isotope. One gram of technetium-99 produces 6.2×108 disintegrations a second (that is, 0.62 GBq
Becquerel
The becquerel is the SI-derived unit of radioactivity. One Bq is defined as the activity of a quantity of radioactive material in which one nucleus decays per second. The Bq unit is therefore equivalent to an inverse second, s−1...

/g).

Occurrence and production

Only minute traces occur naturally in the Earth's crust
Crust (geology)
In geology, the crust is the outermost solid shell of a rocky planet or natural satellite, which is chemically distinct from the underlying mantle...

 as a spontaneous fission product
Fission product
Nuclear fission products are the atomic fragments left after a large atomic nucleus fissions. Typically, a large nucleus like that of uranium fissions by splitting into two smaller nuclei, along with a few neutrons and a large release of energy in the form of heat , gamma rays and neutrinos. The...

 in uranium ores. A kilogram of uranium contains an estimated 1 nanogram (10−9 g) of technetium. Some red giant
Red giant
A red giant is a luminous giant star of low or intermediate mass in a late phase of stellar evolution. The outer atmosphere is inflated and tenuous, making the radius immense and the surface temperature low, somewhere from 5,000 K and lower...

 stars with the spectral types S-, M-, and N contain an absorption line in their spectrum indicating the presence of technetium. These red-giants are known informally as technetium star
Technetium star
A technetium star, or more properly a Tc-rich star, is a star whose stellar spectrum contains absorption lines of the light radioactive metal technetium. The most stable isotope of technetium is 98Tc with a half-life of 4.2 million years, which is too short a time to allow the metal to be material...

s.

Fission waste product

In contrast with its rare natural occurrence, bulk quantities of technetium-99 are produced each year from spent nuclear fuel rods
Spent nuclear fuel
Spent nuclear fuel, occasionally called used nuclear fuel, is nuclear fuel that has been irradiated in a nuclear reactor...

, which contain various fission products. The fission of a gram of uranium-235
Uranium-235
- References :* .* DOE Fundamentals handbook: Nuclear Physics and Reactor theory , .* A piece of U-235 the size of a grain of rice can produce energy equal to that contained in three tons of coal or fourteen barrels of oil. -External links:* * * one of the earliest articles on U-235 for the...

 in nuclear reactor
Nuclear reactor
A nuclear reactor is a device to initiate and control a sustained nuclear chain reaction. Most commonly they are used for generating electricity and for the propulsion of ships. Usually heat from nuclear fission is passed to a working fluid , which runs through turbines that power either ship's...

s yields 27 mg of technetium-99, giving technetium a fission product yield
Fission product yield
Nuclear fission splits a heavy nucleus such as uranium or plutonium into two lighter nuclei, which are called fission products. Yield refers to the fraction of a fission product produced per fission.Yield can be broken down by:#Individual isotope...

 of 6.1%. Other fissile
Fissile
In nuclear engineering, a fissile material is one that is capable of sustaining a chain reaction of nuclear fission. By definition, fissile materials can sustain a chain reaction with neutrons of any energy. The predominant neutron energy may be typified by either slow neutrons or fast neutrons...

 isotopes also produce similar yields of technetium, such as 4.9% from uranium-233
Uranium-233
Uranium-233 is a fissile isotope of uranium, bred from Thorium as part of the thorium fuel cycle. It has been used in a few nuclear reactors and has been proposed for much wider use as a nuclear fuel. It has a half-life of 160,000 years....

 and 6.21% from plutonium-239
Plutonium-239
Plutonium-239 is an isotope of plutonium. Plutonium-239 is the primary fissile isotope used for the production of nuclear weapons, although uranium-235 has also been used and is currently the secondary isotope. Plutonium-239 is also one of the three main isotopes demonstrated usable as fuel in...

. About 49,000 TBq
Becquerel
The becquerel is the SI-derived unit of radioactivity. One Bq is defined as the activity of a quantity of radioactive material in which one nucleus decays per second. The Bq unit is therefore equivalent to an inverse second, s−1...

 (78 metric tons
Tonne
The tonne, known as the metric ton in the US , often put pleonastically as "metric tonne" to avoid confusion with ton, is a metric system unit of mass equal to 1000 kilograms. The tonne is not an International System of Units unit, but is accepted for use with the SI...

) of technetium is estimated to have been produced in nuclear reactors between 1983 and 1994, which is by far the dominant source of terrestrial technetium. Only a fraction of the production is used commercially., technetium-99 in the form of ammonium pertechnate is available to holders of an Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Oak Ridge National Laboratory is a multiprogram science and technology national laboratory managed for the United States Department of Energy by UT-Battelle. ORNL is the DOE's largest science and energy laboratory. ORNL is located in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, near Knoxville...

 permit:


Technetium-99 is produced by the nuclear fission
Nuclear fission
In nuclear physics and nuclear chemistry, nuclear fission is a nuclear reaction in which the nucleus of an atom splits into smaller parts , often producing free neutrons and photons , and releasing a tremendous amount of energy...

 of both uranium-235 and plutonium-239. It is therefore present in radioactive waste
Radioactive waste
Radioactive wastes are wastes that contain radioactive material. Radioactive wastes are usually by-products of nuclear power generation and other applications of nuclear fission or nuclear technology, such as research and medicine...

 and in the nuclear fallout
Nuclear fallout
Fallout is the residual radioactive material propelled into the upper atmosphere following a nuclear blast, so called because it "falls out" of the sky after the explosion and shock wave have passed. It commonly refers to the radioactive dust and ash created when a nuclear weapon explodes...

 of fission bomb
Nuclear weapon
A nuclear weapon is an explosive device that derives its destructive force from nuclear reactions, either fission or a combination of fission and fusion. Both reactions release vast quantities of energy from relatively small amounts of matter. The first fission bomb test released the same amount...

 explosions. Its decay, measured in becquerels per amount of spent fuel, is dominant after about 104 to 106 years after the creation of the nuclear waste. From 1945 to 1994, an estimated 160 TBq
Becquerel
The becquerel is the SI-derived unit of radioactivity. One Bq is defined as the activity of a quantity of radioactive material in which one nucleus decays per second. The Bq unit is therefore equivalent to an inverse second, s−1...

 (about 250 kg) of technetium-99 was released into the environment by atmospheric nuclear tests. The amount of technetium-99 from nuclear reactors released into the environment up to 1986 is on the order of 1000 TBq (about 1600 kg), primarily by nuclear fuel reprocessing; most of this was discharged into the sea. Reprocessing methods have reduced emissions since then, but as of 2005 the primary release of technetium-99 into the environment is by the Sellafield
Sellafield
Sellafield is a nuclear reprocessing site, close to the village of Seascale on the coast of the Irish Sea in Cumbria, England. The site is served by Sellafield railway station. Sellafield is an off-shoot from the original nuclear reactor site at Windscale which is currently undergoing...

 plant, which released an estimated 550 TBq (about 900 kg) from 1995–1999 into the Irish Sea
Irish Sea
The Irish Sea separates the islands of Ireland and Great Britain. It is connected to the Celtic Sea in the south by St George's Channel, and to the Atlantic Ocean in the north by the North Channel. Anglesey is the largest island within the Irish Sea, followed by the Isle of Man...

. From 2000 onwards the amount has been limited by regulation to 90 TBq (about 140 kg) per year. Discharge of technetium into the sea has resulted in some seafood containing minuscule quantities of this element. For example, European lobster
European lobster
Homarus gammarus, known as the European lobster or common lobster, is a species of clawed lobster from the eastern Atlantic Ocean, Mediterranean Sea and parts of the Black Sea. It is closely related to the American lobster, H. americanus. It may grow to a length of and a mass of , and bears a...

 and fish from west Cumbria
Cumbria
Cumbria , is a non-metropolitan county in North West England. The county and Cumbria County Council, its local authority, came into existence in 1974 after the passage of the Local Government Act 1972. Cumbria's largest settlement and county town is Carlisle. It consists of six districts, and in...

 contain about 1 Bq/kg of technetium.The anaerobic
Anaerobic organism
An anaerobic organism or anaerobe is any organism that does not require oxygen for growth. It could possibly react negatively and may even die if oxygen is present...

, spore
Endospore
An endospore is a dormant, tough, and temporarily non-reproductive structure produced by certain bacteria from the Firmicute phylum. The name "endospore" is suggestive of a spore or seed-like form , but it is not a true spore . It is a stripped-down, dormant form to which the bacterium can reduce...

-forming bacteria
Bacteria
Bacteria are a large domain of prokaryotic microorganisms. Typically a few micrometres in length, bacteria have a wide range of shapes, ranging from spheres to rods and spirals...

 in the Clostridium
Clostridium
Clostridium is a genus of Gram-positive bacteria, belonging to the Firmicutes. They are obligate anaerobes capable of producing endospores. Individual cells are rod-shaped, which gives them their name, from the Greek kloster or spindle...

genus
Genus
In biology, a genus is a low-level taxonomic rank used in the biological classification of living and fossil organisms, which is an example of definition by genus and differentia...

 are able to reduce Tc(VII) to Tc(IV). Clostridia bacteria play a role in reducing iron, manganese
Manganese
Manganese is a chemical element, designated by the symbol Mn. It has the atomic number 25. It is found as a free element in nature , and in many minerals...

, and uranium, thereby affecting these elements' solubility in soil and sediments. Their ability to reduce technetium may determine a large part of mobility of technetium in industrial wastes and other subsurface environments.

Fission product for commercial use

The vast majority of the technetium-99m used in medical work is produced by irradiating highly enriched uranium targets in a reactor, extracting molybdenum-99 from the targets, and recovering the technetium-99m that is produced upon decay of molybdenum-99.

Almost two-thirds of the world's supply comes from two reactors; the National Research Universal Reactor
National Research Universal Reactor
The National Research Universal reactor, located in Chalk River, Ontario, is one of Canada’s national science facilities. It is a multipurpose science facility that serves three main roles....

 at Chalk River Laboratories
Chalk River Laboratories
The Chalk River Laboratories is a Canadian nuclear research facility located near Chalk River, about north-west of Ottawa in the province of Ontario.CRL is a site of major research and development to support and advance nuclear technology, in particular CANDU reactor...

 reactor in Ontario, Canada, and the Petten nuclear reactor
Petten nuclear reactor
The Petten nuclear reactors are nuclear research reactors in Petten, Netherlands. There are two reactors on the premises of the Petten research centre: a high flux reactor and a low flux reactor....

 of the Netherlands. All major technetium-99m producing reactors were built in the 1960s and are close to the end of their lifetime. The two new Canadian Multipurpose Applied Physics Lattice Experiment
Multipurpose Applied Physics Lattice Experiment
The Multipurpose Applied Physics Lattice Experiment dedicated isotope-production facility was a project jointly undertaken by AECL and MDS Nordion...

 reactors planned and built to produce 200% of the demand of technetium-99m relieved all other producers from building their own reactors. With the cancellation of the already tested reactors in 2008 the future supply of technetium-99m became very problematic.

However the Chalk River reactor has been shut down for maintenance since August 2009, with an expected reopening in April 2010, and the Petten reactor had a 6-month scheduled maintenance shutdown beginning on Friday, February 19, 2010. With millions of procedures relying on technetium-99m every year, the low supply has left a gap, leaving some practitioners to revert to techniques not used for 20 years. Somewhat allaying this issue is an announcement from a Polish research reactor, the Maria, that they have developed a technique to isolate technetium. The reactor at Chalk River Laboratory reopened in August 2010 and the Petten reactor reopened September 2010.

Waste disposal

The long half-life of technetium-99 and its ability to form an anionic species makes it a major concern for long-term disposal of radioactive waste. Many of the processes designed to remove fission products in reprocessing plants aim at cationic species like caesium
Caesium
Caesium or cesium is the chemical element with the symbol Cs and atomic number 55. It is a soft, silvery-gold alkali metal with a melting point of 28 °C , which makes it one of only five elemental metals that are liquid at room temperature...

 (e.g., caesium-137
Caesium-137
Caesium-137 is a radioactive isotope of caesium which is formed as a fission product by nuclear fission.It has a half-life of about 30.17 years, and decays by beta emission to a metastable nuclear isomer of barium-137: barium-137m . Caesium-137 is a radioactive isotope of caesium which is formed...

) and strontium
Strontium
Strontium is a chemical element with the symbol Sr and the atomic number 38. An alkaline earth metal, strontium is a soft silver-white or yellowish metallic element that is highly reactive chemically. The metal turns yellow when exposed to air. It occurs naturally in the minerals celestine and...

 (e.g., strontium-90
Strontium-90
Strontium-90 is a radioactive isotope of strontium, with a half-life of 28.8 years.-Radioactivity:Natural strontium is nonradioactive and nontoxic, but 90Sr is a radioactivity hazard...

). Hence the pertechnetate is able to escape through these treatment processes. Current disposal options favor burial in continental, geologically stable rock. The primary danger with such a course is that the waste is likely to come into contact with water, which could leach radioactive contamination into the environment. The anionic pertechnetate and iodide
Iodide
An iodide ion is the ion I−. Compounds with iodine in formal oxidation state −1 are called iodides. This page is for the iodide ion and its salts. For information on organoiodides, see organohalides. In everyday life, iodide is most commonly encountered as a component of iodized salt,...

 do not adsorb well onto the surfaces of minerals, so they are likely to be washed away. By comparison plutonium
Plutonium
Plutonium is a transuranic radioactive chemical element with the chemical symbol Pu and atomic number 94. It is an actinide metal of silvery-gray appearance that tarnishes when exposed to air, forming a dull coating when oxidized. The element normally exhibits six allotropes and four oxidation...

, uranium
Uranium
Uranium is a silvery-white metallic chemical element in the actinide series of the periodic table, with atomic number 92. It is assigned the chemical symbol U. A uranium atom has 92 protons and 92 electrons, of which 6 are valence electrons...

, and caesium
Caesium
Caesium or cesium is the chemical element with the symbol Cs and atomic number 55. It is a soft, silvery-gold alkali metal with a melting point of 28 °C , which makes it one of only five elemental metals that are liquid at room temperature...

 are much more able to bind to soil particles. For this reason, the environmental chemistry of technetium is an active area of research.

An alternative disposal method, transmutation
Nuclear transmutation
Nuclear transmutation is the conversion of one chemical element or isotope into another. In other words, atoms of one element can be changed into atoms of other element by 'transmutation'...

, has been demonstrated at CERN
CERN
The European Organization for Nuclear Research , known as CERN , is an international organization whose purpose is to operate the world's largest particle physics laboratory, which is situated in the northwest suburbs of Geneva on the Franco–Swiss border...

 for technetium-99. This transmutation process is one in which the technetium (technetium-99 as a metal target) is bombarded with neutrons to form the short-lived technetium-100 (half-life = 16 seconds) which decays by beta decay to ruthenium
Ruthenium
Ruthenium is a chemical element with symbol Ru and atomic number 44. It is a rare transition metal belonging to the platinum group of the periodic table. Like the other metals of the platinum group, ruthenium is inert to most chemicals. The Russian scientist Karl Ernst Claus discovered the element...

-100. If recovery of usable ruthenium is a goal, an extremely pure technetium target is needed; if small traces of the minor actinides such as americium
Americium
Americium is a synthetic element that has the symbol Am and atomic number 95. This transuranic element of the actinide series is located in the periodic table below the lanthanide element europium, and thus by analogy was named after another continent, America.Americium was first produced in 1944...

 and curium
Curium
Curium is a synthetic chemical element with the symbol Cm and atomic number 96. This radioactive transuranic element of the actinide series was named after Marie Skłodowska-Curie and her husband Pierre Curie. Curium was first intentionally produced and identified in summer 1944 by the group of...

 are present in the target, they are likely to undergo fission and form more fission product
Fission product
Nuclear fission products are the atomic fragments left after a large atomic nucleus fissions. Typically, a large nucleus like that of uranium fissions by splitting into two smaller nuclei, along with a few neutrons and a large release of energy in the form of heat , gamma rays and neutrinos. The...

s which increase the radioactivity of the irradiated target. The formation of ruthenium-106 (half-life 374 days) from the 'fresh fission' is likely to increase the activity of the final ruthenium metal, which will then require a longer cooling time after irradiation before the ruthenium can be used.

The actual production of technetium-99 from spent nuclear fuel is a long process. During fuel reprocessing, it appears in the waste liquid, which is highly radioactive. After sitting for several years, the radioactivity falls to a point where extraction of the long-lived isotopes, including technetium-99, becomes feasible. Several chemical extraction processes are then used, yielding technetium-99 metal of high purity.

Neutron activation

The metastable
Nuclear isomer
A nuclear isomer is a metastable state of an atomic nucleus caused by the excitation of one or more of its nucleons . "Metastable" refers to the fact that these excited states have half-lives more than 100 to 1000 times the half-lives of the other possible excited nuclear states...

 isotope technetium-99m is produced as a fission product from the fission of uranium or plutonium
Plutonium
Plutonium is a transuranic radioactive chemical element with the chemical symbol Pu and atomic number 94. It is an actinide metal of silvery-gray appearance that tarnishes when exposed to air, forming a dull coating when oxidized. The element normally exhibits six allotropes and four oxidation...

 in nuclear reactor
Nuclear reactor
A nuclear reactor is a device to initiate and control a sustained nuclear chain reaction. Most commonly they are used for generating electricity and for the propulsion of ships. Usually heat from nuclear fission is passed to a working fluid , which runs through turbines that power either ship's...

s. Because used fuel is allowed to stand for several years before reprocessing, all molybdenum-99 and technetium-99m will have decayed by the time that the fission products are separated from the major actinide
Actinide
The actinide or actinoid series encompasses the 15 metallic chemical elements with atomic numbers from 89 to 103, actinium through lawrencium.The actinide series derives its name from the group 3 element actinium...

s in conventional nuclear reprocessing. The liquid left after plutonium–uranium extraction (PUREX
PUREX
PUREX is an acronym standing for Plutonium - URanium EXtraction — de facto standard aqueous nuclear reprocessing method for the recovery of uranium and plutonium from used nuclear fuel. It is based on liquid-liquid extraction ion-exchange.The PUREX process was invented by Herbert H. Anderson and...

) contains a high concentration of technetium as but almost all of this is technetium-99, not technetium-99m.

Molybdenum-99 can be formed by the neutron
Neutron
The neutron is a subatomic hadron particle which has the symbol or , no net electric charge and a mass slightly larger than that of a proton. With the exception of hydrogen, nuclei of atoms consist of protons and neutrons, which are therefore collectively referred to as nucleons. The number of...

 activation of molybdenum-98. Molybdenum-99 has a half-life of 67 hours, so short-lived technetium-99m (half-life: 6 hours), which results from its decay, is being constantly produced. The technetium can then be chemically extracted from the solution by using a technetium-99m generator
Technetium-99m generator
A technetium-99m generator, or colloquially a technetium cow or moly cow, is a device used to extract the metastable isotope 99mTc of technetium from a source of decaying molybdenum-99...

 ("technetium cow", also occasionally called a "molybdenum cow"). By irradiating a highly enriched uranium target to produce molybdenum-99, there is no need for the complex chemical steps which would be required to separate molybdenum from a fission product mixture. This method requires that an enriched uranium target be irradiated with neutrons to form molybdenum-99 as a fission product
Fission product
Nuclear fission products are the atomic fragments left after a large atomic nucleus fissions. Typically, a large nucleus like that of uranium fissions by splitting into two smaller nuclei, along with a few neutrons and a large release of energy in the form of heat , gamma rays and neutrinos. The...

, then separated. A drawback of this process is that it requires targets containing uranium-235, which are subject to the security precautions of fissile materials.

Other technetium isotopes are not produced in significant quantities by fission; when needed, they are manufactured by neutron irradiation of parent isotopes (for example, technetium-97 can be made by neutron irradiation of ruthenium-96).

Nuclear medicine and biology

Technetium-99m
Technetium-99m
Technetium-99m is a metastable nuclear isomer of technetium-99, symbolized as 99mTc. The "m" indicates that this is a metastable nuclear isomer, i.e., that its half-life of 6 hours is considerably longer than most nuclear isomers that undergo gamma decay...

 ("m" indicates that this is a metastable nuclear isomer) is used in radioactive isotope medical tests
Nuclear medicine
In nuclear medicine procedures, elemental radionuclides are combined with other elements to form chemical compounds, or else combined with existing pharmaceutical compounds, to form radiopharmaceuticals. These radiopharmaceuticals, once administered to the patient, can localize to specific organs...

, for example as a radioactive tracer
Radioactive tracer
A radioactive tracer, also called a radioactive label, is a substance containing a radioisotope that is used to measure the speed of chemical processes and to track the movement of a substance through a natural system such as a cell or tissue...

 that medical equipment can detect in the human body. It is well suited to the role because it emits readily detectable 140 keV
Electronvolt
In physics, the electron volt is a unit of energy equal to approximately joule . By definition, it is equal to the amount of kinetic energy gained by a single unbound electron when it accelerates through an electric potential difference of one volt...

 gamma ray
Gamma ray
Gamma radiation, also known as gamma rays or hyphenated as gamma-rays and denoted as γ, is electromagnetic radiation of high frequency . Gamma rays are usually naturally produced on Earth by decay of high energy states in atomic nuclei...

s, and its half-life is 6.01 hours (meaning that about 94% of it decays to technetium-99 in 24 hours). There are at least 31 commonly used radiopharmaceuticals based on technetium-99m for imaging and functional studies of the brain
Human brain
The human brain has the same general structure as the brains of other mammals, but is over three times larger than the brain of a typical mammal with an equivalent body size. Estimates for the number of neurons in the human brain range from 80 to 120 billion...

, myocardium, thyroid
Thyroid
The thyroid gland or simply, the thyroid , in vertebrate anatomy, is one of the largest endocrine glands. The thyroid gland is found in the neck, below the thyroid cartilage...

, lung
Human lung
The human lungs are the organs of respiration in humans. Humans have two lungs, with the left being divided into two lobes and the right into three lobes. Together, the lungs contain approximately of airways and 300 to 500 million alveoli, having a total surface area of about in...

s, liver
Liver
The liver is a vital organ present in vertebrates and some other animals. It has a wide range of functions, including detoxification, protein synthesis, and production of biochemicals necessary for digestion...

, gallbladder
Gallbladder
In vertebrates the gallbladder is a small organ that aids mainly in fat digestion and concentrates bile produced by the liver. In humans the loss of the gallbladder is usually easily tolerated....

, kidney
Kidney
The kidneys, organs with several functions, serve essential regulatory roles in most animals, including vertebrates and some invertebrates. They are essential in the urinary system and also serve homeostatic functions such as the regulation of electrolytes, maintenance of acid–base balance, and...

s, skeleton
Human skeleton
The human skeleton consists of both fused and individual bones supported and supplemented by ligaments, tendons, muscles and cartilage. It serves as a scaffold which supports organs, anchors muscles, and protects organs such as the brain, lungs and heart....

, blood
Blood
Blood is a specialized bodily fluid in animals that delivers necessary substances such as nutrients and oxygen to the cells and transports metabolic waste products away from those same cells....

, and tumor
Tumor
A tumor or tumour is commonly used as a synonym for a neoplasm that appears enlarged in size. Tumor is not synonymous with cancer...

s.

The longer-lived isotope technetium-95m, with a half-life of 61 days, is used as a radioactive tracer
Radioactive tracer
A radioactive tracer, also called a radioactive label, is a substance containing a radioisotope that is used to measure the speed of chemical processes and to track the movement of a substance through a natural system such as a cell or tissue...

 to study the movement of technetium in the environment and in plant and animal systems.

Industrial and chemical

Technetium-99 decays almost entirely by beta decay, emitting beta particles with consistent low energies and no accompanying gamma rays. Moreover, its long half-life means that this emission decreases very slowly with time. It can also be extracted to a high chemical and isotopic purity from radioactive waste. For these reasons, it is a National Institute of Standards and Technology
National Institute of Standards and Technology
The National Institute of Standards and Technology , known between 1901 and 1988 as the National Bureau of Standards , is a measurement standards laboratory, otherwise known as a National Metrological Institute , which is a non-regulatory agency of the United States Department of Commerce...

 (NIST) standard beta emitter, and is therefore used for equipment calibration. Technetium-99 has also been proposed for use in optoelectronic devices and nanoscale
Nanotechnology
Nanotechnology is the study of manipulating matter on an atomic and molecular scale. Generally, nanotechnology deals with developing materials, devices, or other structures possessing at least one dimension sized from 1 to 100 nanometres...

 nuclear batteries.

Like rhenium
Rhenium
Rhenium is a chemical element with the symbol Re and atomic number 75. It is a silvery-white, heavy, third-row transition metal in group 7 of the periodic table. With an average concentration of 1 part per billion , rhenium is one of the rarest elements in the Earth's crust. The free element has...

 and palladium
Palladium
Palladium is a chemical element with the chemical symbol Pd and an atomic number of 46. It is a rare and lustrous silvery-white metal discovered in 1803 by William Hyde Wollaston. He named it after the asteroid Pallas, which was itself named after the epithet of the Greek goddess Athena, acquired...

, technetium can serve as a catalyst. For some reactions, for example the dehydrogenation
Dehydrogenation
Dehydrogenation is a chemical reaction that involves the elimination of hydrogen . It is the reverse process of hydrogenation. Dehydrogenation reactions may be either large scale industrial processes or smaller scale laboratory procedures....

 of isopropyl alcohol
Isopropyl alcohol
Isopropyl alcohol is a common name for a chemical compound with the molecular formula C3H8O. It is a colorless, flammable chemical compound with a strong odor...

, it is a far more effective catalyst than either rhenium or palladium. However, its radioactivity is a major problem in finding safe catalytic applications.

When steel is immersed in water, adding a small concentration (55 ppm) of potassium pertechnetate(VII) to the water protects the steel
Steel
Steel is an alloy that consists mostly of iron and has a carbon content between 0.2% and 2.1% by weight, depending on the grade. Carbon is the most common alloying material for iron, but various other alloying elements are used, such as manganese, chromium, vanadium, and tungsten...

 from corrosion, even if the temperature is raised to 250 °C. For this reason, pertechnetate has been used as a possible anodic corrosion
Corrosion
Corrosion is the disintegration of an engineered material into its constituent atoms due to chemical reactions with its surroundings. In the most common use of the word, this means electrochemical oxidation of metals in reaction with an oxidant such as oxygen...

 inhibitor for steel, although technetium's radioactivity poses problems which limit this application to self-contained systems. While (for example) CrO42− can also inhibit corrosion, it requires a concentration ten times as high. In one experiment, a specimen of carbon steel was kept in an aqueous solution of pertechnetate for 20 years and was still uncorroded. The mechanism by which pertechnetate prevents corrosion is not well understood, but seems to involve the reversible formation of a thin surface layer. One theory holds that the pertechnetate reacts with the steel surface to form a layer of technetium dioxide
Oxide
An oxide is a chemical compound that contains at least one oxygen atom in its chemical formula. Metal oxides typically contain an anion of oxygen in the oxidation state of −2....

 which prevents further corrosion; the same effect explains how iron powder can be used to remove pertechnetate from water. (Activated carbon
Activated carbon
Activated carbon, also called activated charcoal, activated coal or carbo activatus, is a form of carbon that has been processed to make it extremely porous and thus to have a very large surface area available for adsorption or chemical reactions.The word activated in the name is sometimes replaced...

 can also be used for the same effect.) The effect disappears rapidly if the concentration of pertechnetate falls below the minimum concentration or if too high a concentration of other ions is added.

As noted, the radioactive nature of technetium (3 MBq
Becquerel
The becquerel is the SI-derived unit of radioactivity. One Bq is defined as the activity of a quantity of radioactive material in which one nucleus decays per second. The Bq unit is therefore equivalent to an inverse second, s−1...

 per liter at the concentrations required) makes this corrosion protection impractical in almost all situations. Nevertheless, corrosion protection by pertechnetate ions was proposed (but never adopted) for use in boiling water reactor
Boiling water reactor
The boiling water reactor is a type of light water nuclear reactor used for the generation of electrical power. It is the second most common type of electricity-generating nuclear reactor after the pressurized water reactor , also a type of light water nuclear reactor...

s.

Precautions

Technetium plays no natural biological role and is not normally found in the human body. Technetium is produced in quantity by nuclear fission, and spreads more readily than many radionuclides. It appears to have low chemical toxicity. For example, no significant change in blood formula, body and organ weights, and food consumption could be detected for rats which ingested up to 15 µg of technetium-99 per gram of food for several weeks. The radiological toxicity of technetium (per unit of mass) is a function of compound, type of radiation for the isotope in question, and the isotope's half-life.

All isotopes of technetium must be handled carefully. The most common isotope, technetium-99, is a weak beta emitter; such radiation is stopped by the walls of laboratory glassware. The primary hazard when working with technetium is inhalation of dust; such radioactive contamination
Radioactive contamination
Radioactive contamination, also called radiological contamination, is radioactive substances on surfaces, or within solids, liquids or gases , where their presence is unintended or undesirable, or the process giving rise to their presence in such places...

 in the lungs can pose a significant cancer risk. For most work, careful handling in a fume hood
Fume hood
A fume hood or fume cupboard is a type of local ventilation device that is designed to limit exposure to hazardous or noxious fumes, vapors or dusts. A fume hood is typically a large piece of equipment enclosing five sides of a work area, the bottom of which is most commonly located at a standing...

 is sufficient; a glove box is not needed.

Further reading

  • WebElements.com – Technetium, and EnvironmentalChemistry.com – Technetium
  • Nudat 2 nuclide chart from the National Nuclear Data Center, Brookhaven National Laboratory
  • Nuclides and Isotopes Fourteenth Edition: Chart of the Nuclides, General Electric Company, 1989
  • Chemistry in its element podcast (MP3) from the Royal Society of Chemistry
    Royal Society of Chemistry
    The Royal Society of Chemistry is a learned society in the United Kingdom with the goal of "advancing the chemical sciences." It was formed in 1980 from the merger of the Chemical Society, the Royal Institute of Chemistry, the Faraday Society and the Society for Analytical Chemistry with a new...

    's Chemistry World
    Chemistry World
    Chemistry World is a monthly chemistry news magazine published by the Royal Society of Chemistry. The magazine addresses current events in world of chemistry including research, international business news and government policy as it affects the chemical science community, plus the best product...

    : Technetium

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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