Astatine Element: Description, Properties, Uses & Facts

Astatine Element: Description, Properties, Uses & Facts

Astatine: Unraveling the Enigma of the Elusive Element


Astatine, denoted by the chemical symbol At, is a rare and enigmatic chemical element that resides at the fringes of the periodic table. With its scarcity, unique properties, and a limited presence in the Earth's crust, astatine remains one of the least studied elements. In this blog, we will delve into the various facets of astatine, exploring its origins, properties, compounds, and potential applications.

Basic Information:

Symbol: At

Latin Name: Astatium

Atomic Number: 85

Atomic Mass: 210 u

Electron configuration short form: [Xe] 4f14 5d10 6s2 6p5

Electron configuration long form: 1s2 2s2 2p6 3s2 3p6 3d10 4s2 4p6 4d10 4f14 5s2 5p6 5d10 6s2 6p5

Valence Electron: 7

Valency: 1

Position in Periodic Table: Astatine belongs to the halogen group, situated in Group 17 (formerly VIIA) along with fluorine, chlorine, bromine, and iodine.

Chemical and Physical Properties:

Astatine shares some common characteristics with its halogen counterparts, yet its unique properties set it apart. Astatine is known for its metallic appearance, although it can also manifest as a halogen gas at higher temperatures. It boasts a melting point of approximately 302 degrees Celsius and a boiling point of around 337 degrees Celsius.

In terms of chemical reactivity, astatine tends to behave similarly to iodine. However, due to its scarcity and high radioactivity, the experimental study of its properties is challenging.

Astatine Compounds:

Astatine compounds are limited in number, primarily due to the element's scarcity. Some notable compounds include astatine monochloride (AtCl), astatine monobromide (AtBr), and astatine monofluoride (AtF). These compounds exhibit interesting chemical behaviors, contributing to the understanding of astatine's role in the periodic table.

Chemical Reactions:

Astatine engages in chemical reactions with other elements, forming compounds that provide insights into its reactivity. For example, astatine readily reacts with alkali metals to form salts, akin to the reactions observed with other halogens.

Occurrence and Production:

Astatine is an extremely rare element in the Earth's crust, primarily produced as a result of the decay of heavier elements. Its scarcity hinders direct extraction and limits its availability for scientific study. Scientists typically produce astatine in laboratories through the irradiation of bismuth targets with alpha particles.

Uses and Facts:

The limited availability and high radioactivity of astatine restrict its practical applications. However, researchers are exploring potential uses in targeted alpha-particle cancer therapy. The high energy and short range of alpha particles emitted by astatine isotopes make them suitable for selectively destroying cancer cells while minimizing damage to surrounding healthy tissues.

Fun Facts:

1. Astatine is the rarest naturally occurring halogen.

2. The element gets its name from the Greek word "astatos," meaning unstable or erratic, reflecting its radioactive nature.


In conclusion, astatine remains a fascinating element, offering a unique blend of properties and challenges for scientists. As research and technology advance, further insights into astatine's behavior and potential applications may unfold, contributing to our understanding of the periodic table and the elements that shape our world.

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