Researchers at CERN and in Mainz have used laser spectroscopy to investigate the properties of the rare and artificially produced radioactive element astatine for the first time. Mainz-based physicist Sebastian Rothe and colleagues have explored experimentally one of the element's fundamental physical parameters, its ionization potential. This property represents the binding energy and indicates how easily one can remove an electron from the atom's outer shell, which then determines the chemical bonding characteristics of that element. The measured value serves as a benchmark for quantum chemistry calculations of the properties of astatine as well as for the theoretical prediction of the ionization potential of superheavy element 117, the heaviest homolog of astatine, the team says. Rothe says that, We are planning to measure the electron affinity of astatine for the first time. Combined with the value for the ionisation potential, this will help us to understand and calculate astatine's chemistry even better.
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