Home » Francium 101: Everything You Need To Know

Francium 101: Everything You Need To Know

by chemdude71

Francium, element 87 in the periodic table, is a rare and highly radioactive element that was only discovered at the start of the 20th century. It is a highly unstable element and can be found in nature in extremely small amounts.

Francium has a wide range of applications in both industry and medicine and is a fascinating element to study.

Introduction to Francium

Francium is the final element of the alkali metal group in the periodic table. It is located in Group 1 of the table and has an atomic number of 87 and an atomic weight of 223. Francium is extremely rare and is estimated to be less than one ounce on Earth at any given time. It is the second least abundant element that is naturally occurring in the Earth’s crust. Francium is the most reactive element in the entire periodic table and is the only element that can spontaneously explode due to its radioactivity.

Francium is a very unstable element, and its isotopes have half-lives of only a few minutes. It decays quickly and is only produced in a few places in the world, primarily in nuclear reactors. Most of the francium used for research purposes is produced this way. The element has an atomic radius of almost 220 pm and a melting point of 27 °C.

Francium is a very rare element, and it is not found naturally in any significant concentrations. It is only found in trace amounts in uranium ores, and it is produced artificially in nuclear reactors. This means that most of the francium that is used in research is produced in laboratories.

The physical and chemical properties of francium are not well-known due to its rarity and its high level of radioactivity. It is usually found in the form of a liquid due to its low boiling point and it is difficult to study in its solid form. Francium is a dangerous element to work with due to its radioactivity and high reactivity. It is important to take safety precautions when working with francium.


History of Francium

Francium was first discovered in 1939 by Marguerite Perey, a French chemist. It was the last element to be discovered in nature, as all elements up to that point had been synthesized in labs. Perey discovered francium while investigating the properties of actinium-227, a radioactive element. She found that actinium-227 decayed into a new element with an atomic number of 87, which we now know as francium.

In 1949, scientists identified two isotopes of francium — francium-223 and francium-221. In the 1950s, francium was found to be present in uranium and thorium ores in small amounts. Francium is so rare, however, that it is not naturally found in large enough quantities to make it commercially viable for extraction.

The small amounts of francium that do exist on Earth have not been around for very long. Francium is considered to be a “volatilized element” that is thought to have been created during the Big Bang. This means that it is not found in the Earth’s core, as it has long since dissipated into the atmosphere.

Though francium is rare and short-lived, it has been used in several historic experiments. In 1960, Russian scientists were able to create a cluster of francium atoms using a cyclotron. This was the first time a cluster of francium atoms had been created.

In 1976, a team of Swedish scientists used francium to create a powerful artificial laser beam. They used nuclear reactions to create a beam of francium nuclei that was powerful enough to penetrate steel walls and other materials. This experiment was groundbreaking and demonstrated the power of francium.

In 1986, scientists used francium to measure the speed of light. They put a sample of francium-223 in a vacuum chamber and used laser beams to measure how quickly the francium-223 decayed. From this experiment, scientists were able to measure the speed of light with unprecedented accuracy.


Structure of Francium

Francium is a highly reactive alkali metal found in the seventh period of the periodic table. This element is unique in its structure, consisting of a nucleus, protons, neutrons, and electrons. It has a relatively low atomic mass, which makes it one of the lightest elements on the periodic table. In terms of structure, Francium is also a unique element, as its nucleus is larger than its electrons, making it the largest atom in its group on the periodic table.

Molecular Structure of Francium:

At its molecular level, Francium consists of one nucleus and seven electrons, arranged in a distinct pattern. The nucleus contains an equal number of protons and neutrons, which are held together by strong nuclear forces. The electrons are arranged around the nucleus in shells, with each shell having a different energy level. This arrangement allows the electrons to move around the nucleus in certain orbits, and the energy associated with the electrons helps define the element’s distinct chemical properties.

Atomic Structure of Francium:

At the atomic level, Francium is composed of one nucleus and seven electrons, all of which are held together by strong nuclear forces. The nucleus consists of positively charged protons and neutral neutrons, which are located at the center of the atom. The electrons are located in a shell around the nucleus and occupy various energy levels. These electrons can move around the nucleus, allowing for chemical reactions to take place.

Isotopic Structure of Francium:

Francium has three distinct isotopic forms, each of which has a different number of neutrons in its nucleus. Francium-223 has 87 neutrons in its nucleus, Francium-224 has 88 neutrons, and Francium-225 has 89 neutrons. These isotopes are all unstable and have relatively short half-lives. As a result, they are not found in nature and must be artificially produced.

The isotopic structure of Francium affects its chemical properties, as isotopes with higher neutron numbers are more reactive than those with lower neutron numbers. This helps explain why Francium is so reactive and unique among the elements on the periodic table.


Production of Francium

Francium is a radioactive element with an extremely short half-life. As a result, it cannot be artificially produced in a laboratory. However, it can be extracted from natural sources in the form of its isotopes. Industrial production of Francium is the process of extracting these isotopes from natural sources and further separating them into pure Francium atoms.

The natural resources most commonly used for Francium production are Radium-226, Actinium-227, and Thorium-232. Radium-226 and Actinium-227 are alpha particle emitters, and when they undergo alpha decay, they transform into Francium-223 and Francium-224 respectively. Thorium-232 is a beta particle emitter, and when it decays, it turns into Francium-220.

The process of extracting Francium from these natural sources involves chemical reactions that take place at a nuclear facility. At a nuclear facility, the process of extracting Francium starts with the irradiation of the natural sources. Radium-226, Actinium-227, and Thorium-232 are bombarded with neutrons to produce the Francium isotopes.

The Francium isotopes are then further separated using a process called “liquid-liquid extraction.” This process involves the use of organic solvents to separate the Francium isotopes from the other elements in the natural source. The Francium atoms are then extracted from the organic solvent in the form of a Francium salt.

The Francium salt is then further isolated through electrolysis. In this process, the Francium salt is dissolved in a solution of hydrochloric acid and then passed through an electrolytic cell. This process separates the Francium atoms, which are then collected in a beaker. Pure Francium atoms can be extracted this way.

The production of Francium can have a number of byproducts, including radioactive waste and other radioactive elements such as Radium-226. This waste is highly toxic and is usually disposed of in secure containers in a nuclear disposal site. It is important to take safety precautions when working with Francium, as it is a highly radioactive element.


Francium in the Environment

Francium is an incredibly rare element, and its presence in the environment is incredibly limited. While it does occur naturally, it is found in such small amounts that it is rarely detected. The average concentration of Francium in the Earth’s crust is estimated to be less than one part per trillion, making it an incredibly scarce element.

Most of the Francium on Earth is a result of cosmic radiation and the decay of other radioactive elements. As Francium is highly unstable, it decays rapidly and therefore has a very short half-life. This means that the Francium in the environment is constantly being replenished by cosmic rays and radioactive decay.

In nature, Francium is mainly found in the form of its compounds. When Francium comes into contact with other elements in the environment, they will form compounds, such as Francium oxide or Francium carbonate. These compounds will then either be taken up by plants or deposited into the soil, where they can be found in trace amounts.

When Francium enters the environment, it can have a number of effects. At high concentrations, Francium can be toxic to organisms, causing a range of health problems. It is also highly reactive and can cause damage to other elements in its surroundings. As a result, it is important to take safety precautions when dealing with Francium.

Due to its limited occurrence in nature, Francium poses very little environmental risk. However, when it is produced in industrial processes, it can be released into the environment. This can lead to an increase of Francium in the environment, which could have a negative impact on the local ecosystem. To prevent this, industries must take proper steps to prevent Francium from being released into the environment.

Overall, Francium is an incredibly rare element that poses very little environmental risk. Due to its limited occurrence in nature, it is rarely detected, and when it is produced in industrial processes, it must be handled with care to prevent it from leaking into the environment.


Francium in Medicine

Francium has a few useful medical applications, though many of them are still in the research and development stages. The most notable use of francium is in cancer treatment, where a radioactive isotope of francium, francium-223, is injected into cancer patients as a form of targeted therapy. Francium-223 has a relatively short half-life, meaning it decays rapidly and is beneficial for treating cancer quickly in high doses. The short half-life of francium-223 also reduces the risk of radiation-induced damage to healthy cells, as the radiation will only affect the area of the body where the isotope is injected.

In addition to its use in cancer treatment, francium can also be used in medical imaging. Using a tracer isotope of francium, such as francium-211, doctors can measure the distribution of francium in a patient’s body and determine if there are any lesions that are not visible with traditional imaging techniques. This allows for more accurate diagnosis and treatment of various medical conditions.

Additionally, francium can be used in positron emission tomography (PET) scans. The francium isotope francium-82 is injected into the body, and the positron emission resulting from the decaying of the isotope allows doctors to visualize the metabolic activity of the organs and tissues in the body. This is useful in diagnosing metabolic diseases, such as diabetes and cancer, as well as neurological and cardiovascular conditions.

Francium can also be used in nuclear medicine. Francium-211 is often used to treat thyroid-related conditions, as it has a short half-life that allows it to decay rapidly and only target the thyroid gland. Additionally, francium is used in bone scans and other imaging techniques to detect fractures and other skeletal abnormalities.

Finally, francium can be used to power medical implants, such as pacemakers. The francium-212 isotope is used in pacemakers and other implants, as it has a long half-life and is capable of providing the necessary power to the implant for an extended period of time.

Overall, francium is an incredibly useful element for medical applications, though many of its uses are still in the early stages of research and development. Francium’s potential in the medical field is vast, and more applications are being discovered each day. With further research, francium could potentially revolutionize the way we diagnose and treat various medical conditions.


Fun Facts About Francium

Francium is a highly unusual element that is not only rare, but also quite mysterious. It’s one of the least understood elements and has fascinated science and researchers alike with its unique properties. Here are some interesting facts about francium that make it even more intriguing.

First and foremost, francium is the rarest naturally occurring element in the world. It is only found in minute amounts on Earth, mostly in uranium and thorium ores. It is so rare that only one atom of francium is estimated to exist in nature at any given moment.

Due to its extreme rarity, francium has never been seen in its pure form. Instead, it is usually studied as a gas in sealed glass tubes or containers. It has been found that francium’s boiling point is only 27 degrees Celsius, making it the second-lowest boiling point of any element.

Francium’s low boiling point is not the only unusual property as it also has one of the highest ionization energies. This means that francium can easily lose electrons when exposed to radiation. This property is also beneficial in terms of medical use as francium can be used to treat conditions such as cancer.

The element has also been used in experiments to study the behavior of atoms. In one such experiment, researchers were able to successfully observe the behavior of francium atoms as they moved from one state to another. This allowed them to gain a better understanding of the behavior of atoms in general.

When it comes to fun facts about francium, its half-life is one of the longest of any element. Francium’s half-life is estimated to be around 22 minutes, which is considerably longer than many other elements. This means that francium is relatively stable and does not decay as quickly as other elements.

Finally, francium has been used in experiments to create new materials. By combining francium with other elements, researchers have been able to create new materials with unique properties. For example, francium and hydrogen have been combined to create a new material called hydrogen-francium which is highly resistant to corrosion.

These are just a few of the fun facts about francium. As you can see, francium is a truly unique and fascinating element that has many interesting properties and applications. From its rarity to its unique properties and uses, francium is sure to remain an intriguing element for years to come.



Its atomic number is 87
Francium was discovered by Marguerite Perey in France in 1939
Prior to its discovery, it was simply referred to as eka-caesium.
It is extremely radioactive

its most stable isotope, francium-223 has a half-life of only 22 minutes.
There are 37 known isotopes of francium ranging in atomic mass from 197 to 233
francium has never been seen
As little as 200–500 g exists at any given time throughout the Earth’s crust
The largest amount produced in the laboratory was a cluster of more than 300,000 atoms

There are 37 known isotopes of francium ranging in atomic mass from 197 to 233
Francium-223 and francium-221 are the only isotopes that occur in nature
Francium is too unstable to have any commercial uses.
Francium has no biological role in any organism.
Exposure to the element can cause cancer.


Pronunciation FRAN-see-əm
Mass number [223]
Francium in the periodic table
Atomic number (Z) 87
Group group 1: hydrogen and alkali metals
Period period 7
Block   s-block
Electron configuration [Rn] 7s1
Electrons per shell 2, 8, 18, 32, 18, 8, 1
Physical properties
Phase at STP solid
Melting point 300 K ​(27 °C, ​81 °F)
Boiling point 950 K ​(677 °C, ​1251 °F)
Density (near r.t.) 2.48 g/cm3 (estimated)
Vapor pressure (extrapolated)
P (Pa) 1 10 100 1 k 10 k 100 k
at T (K) 404 454 519 608 738 946
Atomic properties
Oxidation states +1 (a strongly basic oxide)
Electronegativity Pauling scale: >0.79
Ionization energies
  • 1st: 393 kJ/mol
Covalent radius 260 pm (extrapolated)
Van der Waals radius 348 pm (extrapolated)
Other properties
Natural occurrence from decay
Crystal structure ​body-centered cubic (bcc)
Thermal conductivity 15 W/(m⋅K) (extrapolated)
Electrical resistivity 3 µΩ⋅m (calculated)
Magnetic ordering Paramagnetic
CAS Number 7440-73-5
Naming after France, homeland of the discoverer
Discovery and first isolation Marguerite Perey (1939)
Main isotopes[3] Decay
abun­dance half-life (t1/2) mode pro­duct
212Fr synth 20.0 min β+ 212Rn
α 208At
221Fr trace 4.8 min α 217At
222Fr synth 14.2 min β 222Ra
223Fr trace 22.00 min β 223Ra
α 219At

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