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General properties
Name, symbol, number meitnerium, Mt, 109
Pronunciation / m t ˈ n ɪər i ə m / myt-NEER-ee-əm
or / ˈ m t n ər i ə m / MYT-nər-ee-əm
Element category unknown
but probably a transition metal
Group, period, block 9, 7, d
Standard atomic weight [278]
Electron configuration [Rn] 5f14 6d7 7s2
2, 8, 18, 32, 32, 15, 2
Electron shells of meitnerium (2, 8, 18, 32, 32, 15, 2(predicted))
Discovery Gesellschaft für Schwerionenforschung (1982)
Physical properties
Phase solid (predicted)
Density (near r.t.) 37.4 (predicted) g·cm−3
Atomic properties
Oxidation states 9, 8, 6, 4, 3, 1 (predicted)
Ionization energies
( more)
1st: 800.8 (estimated) kJ·mol−1
2nd: 1823.6 (estimated) kJ·mol−1
3rd: 2904.2 (estimated) kJ·mol−1
Atomic radius 122 (predicted) pm
Covalent radius 129 (estimated) pm
Crystal structure face-centered cubic (predicted)
Meitnerium has a face-centered cubic crystal structure
Magnetic ordering paramagnetic (predicted)
CAS registry number 54038-01-6
Most stable isotopes
Main article: Isotopes of meitnerium
iso NA half-life DM DE ( MeV) DP
278Mt syn 7.6 s α 9.6 274Bh
276Mt syn 0.72 s α 9.71 272Bh
274Mt syn 0.44 s α 9.76 270Bh
270mMt ? syn 1.1 s α 266Bh
only isotopes with half-lives over 0.1 seconds are included here

Meitnerium is a chemical element with the symbol Mt and atomic number 109. It is an extremely radioactive synthetic element (an element that can be created in a laboratory but is not found in nature); the most stable known isotope, meitnerium-278, has a half-life of 7.6 seconds. Meitnerium was first created in 1982 by the GSI Helmholtz Centre for Heavy Ion Research near Darmstadt, Germany. It is named after the physicist Lise Meitner.

In the periodic table, it is a d-block transactinide element. It is a member of the 7th period and is placed in the group 9 elements, although no chemical experiments have been carried out to confirm that it behaves as the heavier homologue to iridium in group 9. Meitnerium is calculated to have similar properties to its lighter homologues, cobalt, rhodium, and iridium.



Meitnerium was first synthesized on August 29, 1982 by a German research team led by Peter Armbruster and Gottfried Münzenberg at the Institute for Heavy Ion Research (Gesellschaft für Schwerionenforschung) in Darmstadt. The team bombarded a target of bismuth-209 with accelerated nuclei of iron-58 and detected a single atom of the isotope meitnerium-266:

+ 58
+ n


The naming of meitnerium was discussed in the element naming controversy regarding the names of elements 104 to 109, but meitnerium was the only proposal and thus was never disputed. The name meitnerium (Mt) was suggested in honour of the Austrian physicist Lise Meitner, a co-discoverer of protactinium (with Otto Hahn), and one of the discoverers of nuclear fission. In 1994 the name was recommended by IUPAC, and was officially adopted in 1997.


Super-heavy elements such as meitnerium are produced by bombarding lighter elements in particle accelerators that induce fusion reactions. Whereas the lightest isotope of meitnerium, meitnerium-266, can be synthesized directly this way, all the heavier meitnerium isotopes have only been observed as decay products of elements with higher atomic numbers.

Depending on the energies involved, the former are separated into "hot" and "cold". In hot fusion reactions, very light, high-energy projectiles are accelerated toward very heavy targets (actinides), giving rise to compound nuclei at high excitation energy (~40–50 MeV) that may either fission or evaporate several (3 to 5) neutrons. In cold fusion reactions, the produced fused nuclei have a relatively low excitation energy (~10–20 MeV), which decreases the probability that these products will undergo fission reactions. As the fused nuclei cool to the ground state, they require emission of only one or two neutrons, and thus, allows for the generation of more neutron-rich products. The latter is a distinct concept from that of where nuclear fusion claimed to be achieved at room temperature conditions (see cold fusion).

Cold fusion

After the first successful synthesis of meitnerium in 1982 by the GSI team, a team at the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Dubna, Russia, also tried to observe the new element by bombarding bismuth-209 with iron-58. In 1985 they managed to identity alpha decays from the descendant isotope 246Cf indicating the formation of meitnerium. The observation of a further two atoms of 266Mt from the same reaction was reported in 1988 and of another 12 in 1997 by the German team at GSI.

The same meitnerium isotope was also observed by the Russian team at Dubna in 1985 from the reaction:

+ 59
+ n

by detecting the alpha decay of the descendant 246Cf nuclei. In 2007, an American team at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) confirmed the decay chain of the 266Mt isotope from this reaction.

Hot fusion

In 2002–2003, the team at the LBNL attempted to generate the isotope 271Mt to study its chemical properties by bombarding uranium-238 with chlorine-37, but without success. Another possible reaction that would form this isotope would be the fusion of berkelium-249 with magnesium-26; however, the yield for this reaction is expected to be very low due to the high radioactivity of the berkelium-249 target. Other long-lived isotopes were unsuccessfully targeted by a team at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) in 1988 by bombarding einsteinium-254 with neon-22.

Decay products

List of meitnerium isotopes observed by decay
Evaporation residue Observed meitnerium isotope
294Uus, 290Uup, 286Uut, 282Rg 278Mt
288Uup, 284Uut, 280Rg 276Mt
287Uup, 283Uut, 279Rg 275Mt
282Uut, 278Rg 274Mt
278Uut, 274Rg 270Mt
272Rg 268Mt

All the isotopes of meitnerium except meitnerium-266 have been detected only in the decay chains of elements with a higher atomic number, such as roentgenium. Roentgenium currently has seven known isotopes; all but one of them undergo alpha decays to become meitnerium nuclei, with mass numbers between 268 and 278. Parent roentgenium nuclei can be themselves decay products of ununtrium, ununpentium, or ununseptium. To date, no other elements have been known to decay to meitnerium. For example, in January 2010, the Dubna team ( JINR) identified meitnerium-278 as a product in the decay of ununseptium via an alpha decay sequence:

+ 4
+ 4
+ 4
+ 4


List of meitnerium isotopes
265Mt 2? min α ? unknown
266Mt 1.7 ms α 1982 209Bi(58Fe,n)
267Mt 10? ms α ? unknown
268Mt 21 ms α 1994 272Rg(—,α)
269Mt 0.2? s α ? unknown
270Mt 5.0 ms α 2004 278Uut(—,2α)
271Mt 5? s α ? unknown
272Mt 10? s α, SF ? unknown
273Mt 20? s α, SF ? unknown
274Mt 0.44 s α, SF 2006 282Uut(—,2α)
275Mt 9.7 ms α 2003 287Uup(—,3α)
276Mt 0.72 s α, SF 2003 288Uup(—,3α)
277Mt 1? min α, SF ? unknown
278Mt 7.6 s α 2009 294Uus(—,4α)
279Mt 6? min α, SF ? unknown

Meitnerium has no stable or naturally-occurring isotopes. Several radioactive isotopes have been synthesized in the laboratory, either by fusing two atoms or by observing the decay of heavier elements. Seven different isotopes of meitnerium have been reported with atomic masses 266, 268, 270, 274–276, and 278, two of which, meitnerium-268 and meitnerium-270, have known but unconfirmed metastable states. Most of these decay predominantly through alpha decay, although some undergo spontaneous fission.

Stability and half-lives

All meitnerium isotopes are extremely unstable and radioactive; in general, heavier isotopes are more stable than the lighter. The most stable known meitnerium isotope, 278Mt, is also the heaviest known meitnerium isotope; it has a half-life of 7.6 seconds. A metastable nuclear isomer, 270mMt, has been reported to also have a half-life of over a second. The isotopes 276Mt and 274Mt have half-lives of 0.72 and 0.44 seconds respectively. The remaining four isotopes have half-lives between 1 and 20 milliseconds. The undiscovered isotope 281Mt has been predicted to be the most stable towards beta decay; however, no known meitnerium isotope has been observed to undergo beta decay. Some unknown isotopes, such as 265Mt, 272Mt, 273Mt, 277Mt, and 279Mt, are predicted to have half-lives longer than the known isotopes. Before its discovery, 274Mt was also predicted to have a long half-life of 20 seconds; however, it was later found to have a shorter half-life of only 0.44 seconds.

Nuclear isomerism


Two atoms of 270Mt have been identified in the decay chains of 278Uut. The two decays have very different lifetimes and decay energies and are also produced from two apparently different isomers of 274Rg. The first isomer decays by emission of an alpha particle with energy 10.03 MeV and has a lifetime of 7.16 ms. The other alpha decays with a lifetime of 1.63 s; the decay energy was not measured. An assignment to specific levels is not possible with the limited data available and further research is required.


The alpha decay spectrum for 268Mt appears to be complicated from the results of several experiments. Alpha particles of energies 10.28, 10.22 and 10.10 MeV have been observed, emitted from 268Mt atoms with half-lives of 42 ms, 21 ms and 102 ms respectively. The long-lived decay must be assigned to an isomeric level. The discrepancy between the other two half-lives has yet to be resolved. An assignment to specific levels is not possible with the data available and further research is required.

Predicted properties


Meitnerium is the seventh member of the 6d series of transition metals. Since element 112 (copernicium) has been shown to be a transition metal, it is expected that all the elements from 104 to 112 would form a fourth transition metal series, with meitnerium as part of the platinum group metals. Calculations on its ionization potentials and atomic and ionic radii are similar to that of its lighter homologue iridium, thus implying that meitnerium's basic properties will resemble those of the other group 9 elements, cobalt, rhodium, and iridium.

Prediction of the probable chemical properties of meitnerium has not received much attention recently. Meitnerium is expected to be a noble metal. Based on the most stable oxidation states of the lighter group 9 elements, the most stable oxidation states of meitnerium are predicted to be the +6, +3, and +1 states, with the +3 state being the most stable in aqueous solutions. In comparison, rhodium and iridium show a maximum oxidation state of +6, while the most stable states are +4 and +3 for iridium and +3 for rhodium. Group 9 is the first group in the transition metals to show lower oxidation states than the group number, the +9 state not being known for any element. The oxidation state +9 might be possible for meitnerium in the nonafluoride (MtF9) and the [MtO4]+ cation, although [IrO4]+ is expected to be more stable. The tetrahalides of meitnerium have also been predicted to have similar stabilities to those of iridium, thus also allowing a stable +4 state. It is further expected that the maximum oxidation states of elements from bohrium (element 107) to darmstadtium (element 110) may be stable in the gas phase but not in aqueous solution.

Physical and atomic

Meitnerium is expected to be a solid under normal conditions and assume a face-centered cubic crystal structure. It should be a very heavy metal with a density of around 37.4 g/cm3, which would be the second-highest of any of the 118 known elements, second only to that predicted for its neighbour hassium (41 g/cm3). In comparison, the densest known element that has had its density measured, osmium, has a density of only 22.61 g/cm3. This results from meitnerium's high atomic weight, the lanthanide and actinide contractions, and relativistic effects, although production of enough meitnerium to measure this quantity would be impractical, and the sample would quickly decay. Meitnerium is also predicted to be paramagnetic.

Theoreticians have predicted the covalent radius of meitnerium to be 6 to 10 pm larger than that of iridium. For example, the Mt–O bond distance is expected to be around 1.9 Å. The atomic radius of meitnerium is expected to be around 122 pm.

Experimental chemistry

Unambiguous determination of the chemical characteristics of meitnerium has yet to have been established due to the short half-lives of meitnerium isotopes and a limited number of likely volatile compounds that could be studied on a very small scale. One of the few meitnerium compounds that are likely to be sufficiently volatile is meitnerium hexafluoride (MtF6), as its lighter homologue iridium hexafluoride (IrF6) is volatile above 60 °C and therefore the analogous compound of meitnerium might also be sufficiently volatile; a volatile octafluoride (MtF8) might also be possible. For chemical studies to be carried out on a transactinide, at least four atoms must be produced, the half-life of the isotope used must be at least 1 second, and the rate of production must be at least one atom per week. Even though the half-life of 278Mt, the most stable known meitnerium isotope, is 7.6 seconds, long enough to perform chemical studies, another obstacle is the need to increase the rate of production of meitnerium isotopes and allow experiments to carry on for weeks or months so that statistically significant results can be obtained. Separation and detection must be carried out continuously to separate out the meitnerium isotopes and automated systems can then experiment on the gas-phase and solution chemistry of meitnerium as the yields for heavier elements are predicted to be smaller than those for lighter elements; some of the separation techniques used for bohrium and hassium could be reused. However, the experimental chemistry of meitnerium has not received as much attention as that of the heavier elements copernicium and flerovium.

The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory attempted to synthesize the isotope 271Mt in 2002–2003 for a possible chemical investigation of meitnerium because it was expected that it might be more stable than the isotopes around it as it has 162 neutrons, a magic number for deformed nuclei; its half-life was predicted to be a few seconds, long enough for a chemical investigation. However, no atoms of 271Mt were detected, and this isotope of meitnerium is currently unknown.

An experiment determining the chemical properties of a transactinide would need to compare a compound of that transactinide with analogous compounds of some of its lighter homologues: for example, in the chemical characterization of hassium, hassium tetroxide (HsO4) was compared with the analogous osmium compound, osmium tetroxide (OsO4). In a preliminary step towards determining the chemical properties of meitnerium, the GSI attempted sublimation of the rhodium compounds rhodium(III) oxide (Rh2O3) and rhodium(III) chloride (RhCl3). However, macroscopic amounts of the oxide would not sublimate until 1000 °C and the chloride would not until 780 °C, and then only in the presence of carbon aerosol particles: these temperatures are far too high for such procedures to be used on meitnerium, as most of the current methods used for the investigation of the chemistry of superheavy elements do not work above 500 °C.

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