George Charles de Hevesy - Co-discoverer of hafnium element

George Charles de Hevesy - Co-discoverer of hafnium element

George Charles de Hevesy - Co-discoverer of hafnium element

Biography & Contributions

George Charles de Hevesy Hungarian radiochemist and Nobel laureate was born on August 01, 1885 – died on July 05, 1966. Hevesy was recognized for his development of radioactive tracers to study chemical processes such as in the metabolism of animals. He was the co-discoverer of the hafnium element.

He predicted the existence of a chemical element with 72 protons. In the year of 1923, along with Dutch physicist Dirk Coster he discovered this element, hafnium radioactive element. In the same year he made the first use of isotopes as tracers in studying chemical processes, leading to development of the radioactive tracer technique.

In 1923, Hevesy published the first study on the use of the naturally radioactive 212Pb as radioactive tracer to follow the absorption and translocation in the roots, stems and leaves of Vicia faba. He developed the X-ray fluorescence analytical method, and discovered the Samarium alpha-ray.

Hafnium Element Details

Hafnium is a chemical element with the symbol Hf and atomic number 72 and having physical properties like lustrous, silvery gray, tetravalent transition metal, hafnium chemically resembles zirconium and is found in zirconium minerals. Its existence was predicted by Dmitri Mendeleev in 1869.

Hafnium's large neutron capture cross-section makes it a good material for neutron absorption in control rods in nuclear power plants. Hafnium is used in iron, titanium, niobium, tantalum, and other metal alloys.

Hafnium is estimated to make up about 5.8 ppm of the Earth's upper crust by mass. It does not exist as a free element in nature, but is found combined in solid solution with zirconium in natural zirconium compounds.

What are radioactive tracers?

Radioactive tracer is also termed as radioactive label is a chemical compound in which one or more atoms have been replaced by a radioisotope so by virtue of its radioactive decay it can be used to explore the mechanism of chemical reactions by tracing the path that the radioisotope follows from reactants to products.

Radioactive tracers are also used to determine the location of fractures created by hydraulic fracturing in natural gas production. Radioactive tracers form the basis of a variety of imaging systems, such as, PET scans, SPECT scans and technetium scans. Radiocarbon dating uses the naturally occurring carbon-14 isotope as an isotopic label.

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