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Structural and spectroscopic characterization of an einsteinium complex.


The transplutonium elements (atomic numbers 95-103) are a group of metals that lie at the edge of the periodic table. As a result, the patterns and trends used to predict and control the physics and chemistry for transition metals, main-group elements and lanthanides are less applicable to transplutonium elements. Furthermore, understanding the properties of these heavy elements has been restricted by their scarcity and radioactivity. This is especially true for einsteinium (Es), the heaviest element on the periodic table that can currently be generated in quantities sufficient to enable classical macroscale studies1. Here we characterize a coordination complex of einsteinium, using less than 200 nanograms of 254Es (with half-life of 275.7(5) days), with an organic hydroxypyridinone-based chelating ligand. X-ray absorption spectroscopic and structural studies are used to determine the energy of the L3-edge and a bond distance of einsteinium. Photophysical measurements show antenna sensitization of EsIII luminescence; they also reveal a hypsochromic shift on metal complexation, which had not previously been observed in lower-atomic-number actinide elements. These findings are indicative of an intermediate spin-orbit coupling scheme in which j-j coupling (whereby single-electron orbital angular momentum and spin are first coupled to form a total angular momentum, j) prevails over Russell-Saunders coupling. Together with previous actinide complexation studies2, our results highlight the need to continue studying the unusual behaviour of the actinide elements, especially those that are scarce and short-lived.

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