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4.1 Erroneous and incomplete discoveries
4.2 Perey's analysis
Francium (pronounced /ˈfrænsiəm/, FRAN-see-əm), formerly known as eka-caesium and actinium K, is a chemical element that has the symbol Fr and atomic number 87. It has one of the lowest electronegativity of all known elements, and is the second rarest naturally occurring element (after astatine). Francium is a highly radioactive metal that decays into astatine, radium, and radon. As an alkali metal, it has one valence electron. Francium was discovered by Marguerite Perey in France (from which the element takes its name) in 1939. It was the last element discovered in nature, rather than synthesized. Outside the laboratory, francium is extremely rare, with trace amounts found in uranium and thorium ores, where the isotope francium-223 continually forms and decays. As little as 20-30 g (one ounce) exists at any given time throughout the Earth's crust; the other isotopes are entirely synthetic. The largest amount ever collected of any isotope was a cluster of about 10,000 atoms (of francium-210) created as an ultracold gas at Stony Brook in 1997. General properties
Name, symbol, number francium, Fr, 87
Element category alkali metal
Group, period, block 1, 7, s
Standard atomic weight (223) g·mol−1
Electron configuration [Rn] 7s1
Electrons per shell 2, 8, 18, 32, 18, 8, 1 (Image)
Density (near r.t.) 1.87 g·cm−3
Melting point ? 300 K, ? 27 °C, ? 80 °F
Boiling point ? 950 K, ? 677 °C, ? 1250 °F
Heat of fusion ca. 2 kJ·mol−1
Heat of vaporization ca. 65 kJ·mol−1
Francium is the least stable of the naturally occurring elements: its most stable isotope, francium-223, has a maximum half-life of only 22 minutes. In contrast, astatine, the second-least stable naturally occurring element, has a maximum half-life of 8.5 hours. All isotopes of francium decay into either astatine, radium, or radon. Francium is also less stable than all synthetic elements up to element 105.
Francium is an alkali metal whose chemical properties most resemble those of caesium. A very heavy element with a single valence electron, it has the highest equivalent weight of any element. Liquid francium if such a substance were to be created should have a surface tension of 0.05092 N/m at its melting point. Franciums melting point was claimed to have been calculated to be around 27 °C (80 °F, 300 K). However, the melting point is uncertain because of the elements extreme rarity and radioactivity. This melting point may have been in limited precision, or so much heat produced from radioactivity that its calculated melting point may have been overestimated. However, the melting point of francium is estimated to be about 22 °C (71 °F, 295 K), based from the periodic trends in melting points with other alkali metals. Also the boiling point may have been overestimated at around 677 °C (1250 °F, 950 K). Based from the periodic trends with other alkali metals, the boiling point of francium is estimated to be between 660 to 665 °C (1220 to 1230 °F, 935 to 940 K). Because radioactive elements give off heat Francium would almost certainly be a liquid if enough visible Francium were to be produced.
Linus Pauling estimated the electronegativity of francium at 0.7 on the Pauling scale, the same as caesium; the value for caesium has since been refined to 0.79, although there are no experimental data to allow a refinement of the value for francium. Francium has a slightly higher ionization energy than caesium, 392.811(4) kJ/mol as opposed to 375.7041(2) kJ/mol for caesium, as would be expected from relativistic effects, and this would imply that caesium is the less electronegative of the two.
Francium coprecipitates with several caesium salts, such as caesium perchlorate, which results in small amounts of francium perchlorate. This coprecipitation can be used to isolate francium, by adapting the radiocaesium coprecipitation method of Glendenin and Nelson. It will additionally coprecipitate with many other caesium salts, including the iodate, the picrate, the tartrate (also rubidium tartrate), the chloroplatinate, and the silicotungstate. It also coprecipitates with silicotungstic acid, and with perchloric acid, without another alkali metal as a carrier, which provides other methods of separation. Nearly all francium salts are water-soluble.
Due to its instability and rarity, there are no commercial applications for francium. It has been used for research purposes in the fields of biology  and of atomic structure. Its use as a potential diagnostic aid for various cancers has also been explored, but this application has been deemed impractical.
Francium's ability to be synthesized, trapped, and cooled, along with its relatively simple atomic structure have made it the subject of specialized spectroscopy experiments. These experiments have led to more specific information regarding energy levels and the coupling constants between subatomic particles. Studies on the light emitted by laser-trapped francium-210 ions have provided accurate data on transitions between atomic energy levels which are fairly similar to those predicted by quantum theory.
As early as 1870, chemists thought that there should be an alkali metal beyond caesium, with an atomic number of 87. It was then referred to by the provisional name eka-caesium. Research teams attempted to locate and isolate this missing element, and at least four false claims were made that the element had been found before an authentic discovery was made.
4.1 Erroneous and incomplete discoveries
Soviet chemist D.K. Dobroserdov was the first scientist to claim to have found eka-caesium, or francium. In 1925, he observed weak radioactivity in a sample of potassium, another alkali metal, and concluded that eka-caesium was contaminating the sample. He then published a thesis on his predictions of the properties of eka-caesium, in which he named the element russium after his home country. Shortly thereafter, Dobroserdov began to focus on his teaching career at the Polytechnic Institute of Odessa, and he did not pursue the element further.
The following year, English chemists Gerald J. F. Druce and Frederick H. Loring analyzed X-ray photographs of manganese(II) sulfate. They observed spectral lines which they presumed to be of eka-caesium. They announced their discovery of element 87 and proposed the name alkalinium, as it would be the heaviest alkali metal.
In 1930, Fred Allison of the Alabama Polytechnic Institute claimed to have discovered element 87 when analyzing pollucite and lepidolite using his magneto-optical machine. Allison requested that it be named virginium after his home state of Virginia, along with the symbols Vi and Vm. In 1934, however, H.G. MacPherson of UC Berkeley disproved the effectiveness of Allison's device and the validity of this false discovery.
In 1936, Romanian chemist Horia Hulubei and his French colleague Yvette Cauchois also analyzed pollucite, this time using their high-resolution X-ray apparatus. They observed several weak emission lines, which they presumed to be those of element 87. Hulubei and Cauchois reported their discovery and proposed the name moldavium, along with the symbol Ml, after Moldavia, the Romanian province where they conducted their work. In 1937, Hulubei's work was criticized by American physicist F. H. Hirsh Jr., who rejected Hulubei's research methods. Hirsh was certain that eka-caesium would not be found in nature, and that Hulubei had instead observed mercury or bismuth X-ray lines. Hulubei, however, insisted that his X-ray apparatus and methods were too accurate to make such a mistake. Because of this, Jean Baptiste Perrin, Nobel Prize winner and Hulubei's mentor, endorsed moldavium as the true eka-caesium over Marguerite Perey's recently discovered francium. Perey, however, continuously criticized Hulubei's work until she was credited as the sole discoverer of element 87.
4.2 Perey's analysis
Eka-caesium was discovered in 1939 by Marguerite Perey of the Curie Institute in Paris, France when she purified a sample of actinium-227 which had been reported to have a decay energy of 220 keV. However, Perey noticed decay particles with an energy level below 80 keV. Perey thought this decay activity might have been caused by a previously unidentified decay product, one which was separated during purificati