Date: Spring 2010
I've been teaching about the periodic table recently and I keep
getting a question for which my teacher resources provide no clear answer.
When discussing elements as either metals or nonmetals, how are the elements
commonly grouped as metalloids classified? Also, in what family should
astatine be included?
Wikipedia covers his question pretty thoroughly...
The elements that you refer to that are neither metals nor nonmetals (but
that have some characteristics of both) are in fact officially classified as
Metalloids. There are, as you probably know, a total of seven of them:
Boron, Silicon, Germanium, Arsenic, Antimony, Tellurium and Polonium.
Because of their semi-metallic characteristics, at least four of these are
used as either the basis for semiconductor devices (Silicon and
Germanium), or as so-called "dopant" elements in used in the process to
make semiconductor devices (Boron and Arsenic).
Astatine is a little difficult to characterize since it is the
rarest element in
the earth's crust. Only a few tens of grams of this element are believed to
exist naturally. It is highly radioactive and with a half-life of
only about 8
hours, and with only trace amounts available, verification of its properties
is impossible. Nonetheless, Astatine is classified as a Halogen, and a
nonmetal (not a metalloid). Physical properties are expected to be much
like Iodine, but even darker in color and less volatile. Chemically, it is
expected to act like all the other halogens, but to be less chemically
active than Iodine.
I am not a chemist. I am an engineer, but I have learned how to research
questions like this.
So I Googled "Astatine .wiki", and my favorite source, Wikipedia produced
This highly radioactive element has been confirmed by mass spectrometers to
behave chemically much like other halogens, especially iodine (it would
probably accumulate in the thyroid gland like iodine), though astatine is
thought to be more metallic than iodine.
So, please check out this URL for the complete story of Astatine:
Here you will find a description of the "characteristics of metals .wiki"
All of the books I have read call radioactive Uranium a metal,
And since Astatine is a radioactive element, I would also call it a metal,
But Wikipedia is quite the source, being drafted, reviewed, and edited by
the entire community.
So it is quite the resource. There are also other sources that surface with
these searches, some easier to understand than others.
Here are the short answers to your questions:
Q1: When discussing elements as either metals or
nonmetals, how are the elements commonly grouped as metalloids
Q2: Also, in what family should astatine be included?
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Update: June 2012