From the gas phase to the solid state: The chemical bonding in the superheavy element flerovium


As early as 1975, Pitzer suggested that copernicium, flerovium, and oganesson are volatile substances behaving like noble gas because of their closed-shell configurations and accompanying relativistic effects. It is, however, precarious to predict the chemical bonding and physical behavior of a solid by knowledge of its atomic or molecular properties only. Copernicium and oganesson have been analyzed very recently by our group. Both are predicted to be semiconductors and volatile substances with rather low melting and boiling points, which may justify a comparison with the noble gas elements. Here, we study closed-shell flerovium in detail to predict its solid-state properties, including the melting point, by decomposing the total energy into many-body forces derived from relativistic coupled-cluster theory and from density functional theory. The convergence of such a decomposition for flerovium is critically analyzed, and the problem of using density functional theory is highlighted. We predict that flerovium in many ways does not behave like a typical noble gas element despite its closed-shell 7𝑝21/2 configuration and resulting weak interactions. Unlike the case of noble gases, the many-body expansion in terms of the interaction energy does not converge smoothly. This makes the accurate prediction of phase transitions very difficult. Nevertheless, a first prediction by Monte Carlo simulation estimates the melting point at 284 ± 50 K. Furthermore, calculations for the electronic bandgap suggests that flerovium is a semiconductor similar to copernicium
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