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- Astatine is a radioactive chemical element with the symbol At and atomic number 85. It is the rarest naturally occurring element in the Earth's crust, occurring only as the decay product of various heavier elements. All of astatine's isotopes are short-lived; the most stable is astatine-210, with a half-life of 8.1 hours. A sample of the pure element has never been assembled, because any macroscopic specimen would be immediately vaporized by the heat of its own radioactivity.
- The bulk properties of astatine are not known with any certainty. Many of them have been estimated based on the element's position on the periodic table as a heavier analog of iodine, and a member of the halogens (the group of elements including fluorine, chlorine, bromine, and iodine). Astatine is likely to have a dark or lustrous appearance and may be a semiconductor or possibly a metal; it probably has a higher melting point than that of iodine. Chemically, several anionic species of astatine are known and most of its compounds resemble those of iodine. It also shows some metallic behavior, including being able to form a stable monatomic cation in aqueous solution (unlike the lighter halogens).
- The first synthesis of the element was in 1940 by Dale R. Corson, Kenneth Ross MacKenzie, and Emilio G. Segrè at the University of California, Berkeley, who named it from the Greek astatos (ἄστατος), meaning "unstable". Four isotopes of astatine were subsequently found to be naturally occurring, although much less than one gram is present at any given time in the Earth's crust. Neither the most stable isotope astatine-210, nor the medically useful astatine-211, occur naturally; they can only be produced synthetically, usually by bombarding bismuth-209 with alpha particles.
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