Element 43 in our International Year of the Periodic Table series is technetium. The periodic table’s first artificially created element, its radioactivity allows it to be used in medical imaging.
The artificial creation of element 43 was originally claimed by a group of German chemists in 1925. They named their newly discovered element masurium. However, their experiment could not be replicated, and it’s now widely thought that they did not succeed in creating element 43. Later, in 1937, it was created by Italian scientists, who named their new element technetium.
Technetium only occurs naturally in very small amounts. It’s the lightest element whose isotopes are all radioactive, and consequently decay into other elements. It is produced as a byproduct of nuclear fission, and it’s also been detected being formed by neutron capture processes in stars.
Despite its scarcity and transience, technetium has found a medical use in recent decades. A form of the technetium-99 isotope is used as a radioactive tracer for the imaging of various organs. It can be bound to various different compounds to control where it ends up in the body.
Remember, you can keep track of all of the previous entries in this series on the site here, or on the Royal Society of Chemistry’s dedicated page.