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Name, Symbol, Number technetium, Tc, 43
Chemical series Transition metals
Group, Period, Block 7, 5, d
Density, Hardness 11500 kg/m3, NA
Appearance Silvery gray metallic
Atomic properties
Atomic weight [98] amu
Atomic radius (calc.) 135 (183) pm
Covalent radius 156 pm
van der Waals radius no data
Electron configuration [Kr]4d6 5s1
e- 's per energy level 2, 8, 18, 14, 1
Oxidation state (Oxide) 7 (strong acid)
Crystal structure Hexagonal
Physical properties
State of matter Solid (__)
Melting point 2430 K (3915 °F)
Boiling point 4538 K (7709 °F)
Molar volume 8.63 ×10-6 m3/mol
Heat of vaporization 660 kJ/mol
Heat of fusion 24 kJ/mol
Vapor pressure 0.0229 Pa at 2473 K
Speed of sound no data
Electronegativity 1.9 (Pauling scale)
Electron affinity -53 kJ/mol
First Ionization Energy 720 kJ/mol
Specific heat capacity 210 J/(kg*K)
Electrical conductivity 6.7 106/(m·ohm)
Thermal conductivity 50.6 W/(m*K)
1st ionization potential 702 kJ/mol
2nd ionization potential 1470 kJ/mol
3rd ionization potential 2850 kJ/mol
Most stable isotopes
iso NA half-life DM DE MeV DP
97Tc {syn.} 2.6 E6 y ε 0.320 97Mo
98Tc {syn.} 4.2 E6 y β- 1.796 98Ru
99Tc {syn.} 211,100 y β- 0.294 99Ru
SI units & STP are used except where noted.

Technetium [Gr. technetos = artificial] is a chemical element in the periodic table that has the symbol Tc and atomic number 43. A silvery gray, radioactive, crystalline transition metal that is very rarely found in nature, technetium occurs as one of the fission products of uranium and is used in bone imaging and corrosion protection. Chemical properties of this element are intermediate between rhenium and manganese.


Notable characteristics

Technetium is a silvery-gray metal that slowly tarnishes in moist air. Under oxidizing conditions technetium (VII) will exist as the pertechnetate ion, TcO4-. The chemistry of technetium is intermediate between rhenium and manganese. Technetium dissolves in aqua regia, nitric acid, and concentrated sulfuric acid, but it is not soluble in hydrochloric acid. This element is a very good corrosion inhibitor for steel and the metal is an excellent superconductor at temperatures below 11 K.

This element is unusual because it has no stable isotopes and is therefore extremely rare on earth. Common oxidation states of technetium include +2, +4, +5, +6 and +7.


Technetium is one of the most powerful known preventatives of rust, and is also a valuable source of beta rays. Ammonium pertechnate (NH4TcO4), is a specialized corrosion preventer for steel. Five parts per million of KTcO4 in aerated distilled water protects mild carbon steel at temperatures up to 250 °C. This protection is limited to closed systems due to the radioactive nature of technetium. Other uses;

  • Tc-95m ("m" stands for metastable) with a half-life of 61 days is used in radioactive tracer studies.
  • Tc-99m (half-life 6.01 hours) is used in many radioactive isotope medical tests due to its short half-life, the gamma ray energy it emits, and its ability to chemically bind to many active biomolecules.
  • Organic technetium compounds are used in bone imaging.
  • Technetium is an excellent superconductor at tempuratures of 11 kelvins and below.
  • Technetium is commercially available to holders of ORNL permits at a price of $60/g.


Technetium (Greek technetos meaning "artificial") was discovered by Carlo Perrier and Emilio Segrč in Italy in 1937. The researchers found it in a sample of molybdenum sent to them by Ernest Lawrence. The sample was bombarded by deuterium nuclei in the University of California, Berkeley cyclotron which gave them the isotope Tc-97. Technetium was the first element to be artificially produced.

For a number of years there was a gap in the periodic table at element 43. Dmitri Mendeleev predicted that this missing element would be chemically similar to manganese and gave it the name ekamanganese. In 1925 Walter Noddack and Ida Tacke, the discoverers of rhenium, reported the discovery of element 43 and named it masurium, but their report was never confirmed and thus generally accepted as mistaken. (Some chemists have challenged this view.) The development of nuclear energy in the mid 20th century generated the first known samples of element 43 by nuclear reactions.


Once it was available in macroscopic quantities i.e. enough to determine its chemical and physical properties, it was discovered to exist naturally elsewhere in the universe. Some red giant stars (S-, M-, and N-types) contain an emission line in their spectrum corresponding to the presence of technetium. Its presence in red giants has led to the establishment of new theories about the production of heavy elements in stars.

Since its discovery, there have been many searches in terrestrial materials for natural sources. In 1962, technetium-99 was isolated and identified in pitchblende from Africa in very small quantities as a spontaneous fission product of uranium-238. This discovery was made by B.T. Kenna and P.K. Kuroda.

Tc-99 is produced as a byproduct from the fission of uranium in nuclear reactors and it is prepared by chemically separating it from reactor waste.


Technetium is one of two elements in the first 83 that have no stable isotopes (the other element is promethium). The most stable radioisotopes are Tc-98 with a half-life of 4.2 million years, Tc-97 (half-life: 2.6 million years) and Tc-99 (half-life: 211,100 years).

Twenty-two other radioisotopes have been characterized with atomic weights ranging from 87.933 amu (Tc-88) to 112.931 amu (Tc-113). Most of these have half-lives that are less than an hour except Tc-93 (2.75 hours), Tc-94 (293 minutes), Tc-95 (20 hours), and Tc-96 (4.28 days). There are also numerous meta states with Tc-97m being the most stable with a half-life of 90.1 days (0.097 MeV). This is followed by Tc-95m (half life: 61 days, 0.038 MeV), and Tc-99m (half-life: 6.01 hours, 0.143 MeV).

The primary decay mode before the most stable isotope, Tc-98, is electron capture and the primary mode after is beta emission with one instance of election capture during the first mode of the two mode decay of Tc-100. The primary decay product before Tc-98 is molybdenum and the primary product after is ruthenium (the product of the first decay mode of Tc-100 is Mo, however).


Compounds containing this element are encountered extremely rarely by most people and is for practical purposes not found in nature. Tc-99 is a contamination hazard and should be handled in a glove box. All isotopes of technetium are radioactive. Technetium has no natural biological role.


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Last updated: 05-07-2005 06:05:21
Last updated: 05-13-2005 07:56:04