My watch list  


Atomic No. Name Symbol
89 Actinium Ac
90 Thorium Th
91 Protactinium Pa
92 Uranium U
93 Neptunium Np
94 Plutonium Pu
95 Americium Am
96 Curium Cm
97 Berkelium Bk
98 Californium Cf
99 Einsteinium Es
100 Fermium Fm
101 Mendelevium Md
102 Nobelium No
103 Lawrencium Lr

The actinide (or actinoid) series encompasses the 15 chemical elements that lie between actinium and lawrencium on the periodic table, with atomic numbers 89 - 103[1]. The actinide series derives its name from the first element in the series, actinium, and ultimately from the Greek ακτις (aktis), "ray," reflecting the elements' radioactivity.

The actinide series is included in some definitions of the rare earth elements. IUPAC is currently recommending the name actinoid rather than actinide, as the suffix "-ide" generally indicates ions. There are alternative arrangements of the periodic table that exclude actinium or lawrencium from appearing together with the other actinides.

The actinides display less similarity in their chemical properties than the lanthanide series, exhibiting a wider range of oxidation states, which initially led to confusion as to whether actinium, thorium, and uranium should be considered d-block elements. All actinides are radioactive.

Only thorium and uranium occur naturally in the earth's crust in anything more than trace quantities. Neptunium and plutonium have been known to show up naturally in trace amounts in uranium ores as a result of decay or bombardment. The remaining actinides were discovered in nuclear fallout, or were synthesized in particle colliders. The latter half of the series possess exceedingly short half-lives.

The actinides are typically placed below the main body of the periodic table (below the lanthanide series), in the manner of a footnote. The full-width version of the periodic table shows the position of the actinides more clearly.

An organometallic compound of an actinide is known as an organoactinide.

History of the actinide series

From the earlier known chemical properties of Actinium (89) up to Uranium (92), indicating a relation to the transition metals, it was generally assumed that the transuraniums would have similar qualities. During his Manhattan Project research in 1944, Glenn T. Seaborg experienced unexpected difficulty isolating Americium (95) and Curium (96). He began wondering if these elements more properly belonged to a different series than the transition metals, which would explain why the expected chemical properties of the new elements were different. In 1945, he went against the advice of colleagues and proposed the most significant change to Mendeleev's periodic table to have been accepted universally by the scientific community: the actinide series.

In 1945, Seaborg published his actinide concept of heavy element electronic structure, predicting that the actinides would form a transition series analogous to the rare earth series of lanthanide elements.

In 1961, Antoni Przybylski discovered a star that contained unusually high amounts of actinides.


See also

  • Actinides in the environment


  1. ^ IUPAC Provisional Recommendations for the Nomenclature of Inorganic Chemistry (2004) (online draft of an updated version of the "Red Book" IR 3-6)
  • The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition.
  • Chemical Elements website
  • Actinides on the Book Rags website
  • Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory image of historic periodic table by Seaborg showing actinide series for the first time
  • Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Uncovering the Secrets of the Actinides
  • Los Alamos National Laboratory, Actinide Research Quarterly
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Actinide". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
Your browser is not current. Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0 does not support some functions on Chemie.DE