Rutherfordium (Rf)


  • Symbol: Rf
  • Atomic Number: 104
  • Atomic Weight: [267]
  • Element Classification: Transition Metal
  • Discovered By: Joint Institute for Nuclear Research (Dubna, Russia) and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley, USA)
  • Discovery Date: Claimed in 1964 by Dubna and in 1969 by Berkeley
  • Name Origin: Named after Ernest Rutherford, the New Zealand-born physicist known for his pioneering studies of atomic structure and radioactivity
  • Density(g/cc): Estimated to be around 23.2 (predicted)
  • Melting Point: 2400°C (estimated)
  • Boiling Point: 5800°C (estimated)
  • Appearance: Presumed to be a radioactive metal with no stable isotopes, actual appearance is unknown
  • Atomic Radius(pm): Estimated


The discovery of rutherfordium involved competing claims from two research groups. In 1964, the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Dubna, Russia, reported the production of a new element after bombarding plutonium-242 with neon-22 ions. Shortly after, in 1969, researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, USA, also claimed the discovery after conducting similar experiments. After years of debate over priority and naming rights, the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) officially named the element rutherfordium in honor of Ernest Rutherford, acknowledging his fundamental contributions to atomic science.

Relation to Other Elements

Rutherfordium is the first element in the 4th-row transition metals in the periodic table, placing it in the group with titanium, zirconium, and hafnium. It is expected to share similar chemical properties with these group members due to its position in the periodic table, particularly with hafnium, its lighter homologue. Rutherfordium’s chemical and physical properties are largely predicted rather than observed due to the short half-lives of its isotopes and the challenges associated with producing the element in quantities sufficient for detailed study.

Natural Occurrence

Rutherfordium does not occur naturally and is produced synthetically in nuclear reactors or particle accelerators.


Due to its short half-life, intense radioactivity, and the experimental nature of its production, rutherfordium’s uses are currently limited to scientific research:

  • Scientific Research: The primary application of rutherfordium is in the field of scientific research, where it is used to study the properties of transactinide elements and investigate the effects of relativistic changes on the chemical behavior of heavy elements. These studies help expand our understanding of the periodic table’s limits and the behavior of superheavy elements.

The discovery of rutherfordium marked a significant step in the exploration of superheavy elements, contributing to ongoing research efforts aimed at synthesizing new elements and understanding the complexities of atomic and nuclear physics.


Lawrencium (Lr)

Dubnium (Db)