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What is Rutherfordium

Rutherfordium (pronunciation ruth-er-FORD-ee-em [2]), represented by the chemical symbol or formula Rf [1], is a synthetic, radioactive element belonging to the family of transition metals [3]. The most stable of its 15 isotopes is that with mass number 267 that has a half life of 1.3 hours [3].

Rutherfordium Symbol

Where Is It Found

Rf does not occur naturally on the earth. It is only produced in the lab by the nuclear bombardment of californium 249 with the nuclei of carbon 12 [1, 6].


Origin of Its Name: The transuranium element is named after the British chemist, Ernest Rutherford, who is known as the father of nuclear physics and chemistry [1, 3].

Who Discovered Rutherfordium: It was discovered independently by Georgy Flerov and his colleagues at Dubna, Russia and Albert Ghiorso and his colleagues at Berkley, California, USA [1].

When Was It Discovered: Its discovery year is 1764 [1].

How Was It Discovered

In 1964, Flerov’s team bombarded plutonium with neon and produced isotope 259 of the element at the Joint Institut for Nuclear Research (JINR) in Russia. They confirmed their discovery in 1966. In 1969, Ghiorso and his team made 3 successful attempts at isolating Rf at the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory (LBL) in USA. One was by bombarding curium with oxygen to form isotope 260, next was by interacting californium with carbon for isotope 257 and finally repeating the same collision to obtain isotope 258. There was a dispute regarding the credit of the discovery and eventually in 1992, the IUPAC decided to recognize both the teams for their claims and name the element Rutherfordium [1].

Rutherfordium Identification

Atomic Number  104 [1]
CAS Number  53850-36-5 [1]
Position in the periodic table Group Period Block
  4 [1] 7 [1] d [1]

Location of Rutherfordium in the Periodic Table

Properties and Characteristics of Rutherfordium

General Properties

Atomic mass 267  atomic mass units [1]
Atomic weight 267 [1]
Mass number 267 [3]
Molar mass/molecular weight 267.122 g/mol [5]

Physical Properties

Color/appearance Unknown [11]
Luster Unknown [3]
Melting point/freezing point Unknown [1]
Boiling point Unknown [1]
Density Unknown [1]
State of matter at room temperature (normal phase) Solid [1]
Hardness (Mohs scale) N/A [12]

Chemical Properties

Oxidation state/Oxidation number +4 [1]
Reactivity Unknown [4]

Atomic Data of Rutherfordium (Element 104)

Valence electrons 6d27s2 [9]
Quantum numbers
– n 6 [8]
– ℓ 2 [8]
– m -1 [8]
– m s [8]
Electron configuration (noble gas configuration) [Rn] 5f146d27s2 [1]
Atomic structure
– Number of Electrons 104 [3]
– Number of Neutrons 163 [3]
– Number of Protons 104 [3]
Energy levels [3]
– First Energy Level 2
– Second Energy Level 8
– Third Energy Level 18
– Fourth Energy Level 32
– Fifth Energy Level 32
– Sixth Energy Level 10
– Seventh Energy Level 2
Radius of atom
Atomic Radius Unknown [1]
– Covalent Radius 1.57 Å [1]
Electronegativity (Pauling scale) Unknown [1]
Ionization energy

(kJmol-1) [1]

1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th

Rutherfordium Electron Configuration (Bohr Model)

Rutherfordium Uses

Since only a few atoms of the element have been synthesized, it only has applications in the field of research [1].

Is It Dangerous

The metal is dangerous due to its radioactivity. Hence, exposure should be avoided [1, 3].

Interesting Facts

  • Some of its chemical properties are similar to those of hafnium [7].
  • The Russian scientists had initially suggested the name Kurchatovium (Ku) for the element after Russian nuclear physicist, Igor Kurchatov. However, the LBL scientists wanted to name it Rutherfordium that was later accepted by the IUPAC [3].
  • It was given a temporary name unnilquadium (Unq) based on its atomic number before assigning the official name [13].

Rutherfordium (Rf Element) Cost

Unknown as it is not commercially available [3].



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