Nobelium (No)

Nobelium is a chemical element with the atomic number 102 in the periodic table. Since it’s a  synthetically produced substance, element 102 cannot be found naturally in Earth’s crust. 

According to Mendeleev’s classification of elements, nobelium is a member of the actinides family of the periodic table. It has three valence electrons arranged in the electron configuration [Rn] 5f136d17s2.

Chemical and Physical Properties of Nobelium

Atomic number102
Atomic weight (mass)[259] g.mol-1
Group (number)Actinides
Period7 (f-block)
Physical stateSolid at 20°C
Half-lifeFrom 5.7(8) milliseconds to 58 minutes
Electronegativity according to PaulingUnknown
Melting point827°C, 1521°F, 1100 K
Boiling pointUnknown
Van der Waals radiusUnknown
Ionic radiusUnknown
Most characteristic isotope259No
Electronic shell[Rn] 5f13 6d1 7s2
The energy of the first ionizationUnknown
The energy of the second ionizationUnknown
Discovery date1963 by Georgy Flerov and colleagues at Dubna and independently by Albert Ghiorso and colleagues at Berkeley

With the periodic table symbol No, atomic number 102, an assumed atomic mass of [259] g.mol-1, and electron configuration [Rn] 5f136d17s2, nobelium is a radioactive metal. Its melting point is achieved at 827°C, 1521°F, 1100 K, while the boiling point of this substance is still unknown. 

Being classified as a transuranium element according to the atomic number, nobelium has a highly unstable electron configuration. This member of the actinides series in the periodic table has a trivalent electronic shell and 

The rest of the physical and chemical properties of this chemical element remain unknown. This is due to the fact that there are only a few atoms of the substance synthesized so far, which haven’t been thoroughly studied.

How Was Nobelium Discovered?

This chemical element has two teams of discoverers behind its discovery. Namely, both the Russian and the American teams succeeded in producing the transuranium element 102 at the same time. The first nobelium isotope 254No was simultaneously synthesized in 1966 in the laboratories of the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory in California, United States, and at the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research, Dubna, near Moscow, Russia. 

The Contribution of the Dubna Team of Scientists

In 1956, the Flerov Laboratory of Nuclear Reactions team at the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Dubna, Russia, performed a revolutionary experiment that produced a new transuranium element. The scientists name the new element joliotium, after Irene Joliot-Curie. However, their discovery didn’t receive much attention from the scientific community. 

The Discovery of the Stockholm Team of Scientists

In 1957, the team of scientists from the Nobel Institute of Physics in Stockholm, Sweden, declared a new achievement. Namely, they announced their success in producing element 102 in a cyclotron, by bombarding a target of curium-244 with ions of carbon-13. The first isotope of the element 102 that they believed to have synthesized had a half-life of 10 minutes. The Swedish team members named the newly discovered element nobelium, very likely because they thought this achievement was worth the Nobel Prize. However, their scientific evidence could not be verified. 

The Contribution of the Berkeley Team of Scientists

A year later, a third group made up of Albert Ghiorso, Glenn T. Seaborg, Torbørn Sikkeland, and John R. Walton, from the Lawrence Radiation Laboratory in Berkeley, California, tried to replicate the chemical trial of the Swedish team on the other side of the ocean.  By bombarding curium-246 with carbon-12 at the Heavy Ion Linear Accelerator, the team did not succeed in producing the same isotope with a half-life of 10 minutes, but the reaction of californium with boron and carbon ions produced nobelium-254 isotope with a half-life of three seconds. 

The Credits 

After reviewing all scientific claims and evidence, IUPAC (International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry) decided on the Dubna team of scientists as the discoverers of nobelium in 1966.

However, the Berkeley group led by Albert Ghiorso and Glenn T. Seaborg from the Lawrence Radiation Laboratory was eventually also credited as the team who discovered nobelium, since their scientific evidence of the nobelium-245 isotope could be strongly confirmed. 

How Did Nobelium Get Its Name?

The name of element 102 was given after the great Swedish philanthropist and scientist Alfred Nobel to commemorate his legacy to the world. 

After the third team of scientists based in Berkeley submitted their evidence of the new element nobelium, the IUPAC recognized the name nobelium as the official name of the new element, since it was the name used by all three research teams. 

Where Can You Find Nobelium?

Nobelium can only be made by nuclear bombardment in a strictly controlled laboratory environment and under the supervision of highly experienced and knowledgeable scientists. Until the present day, this chemical element has been produced only in minuscule amounts in two laboratories where it was first synthesized.

Nobelium in Everyday Life

Element 102 is used only in scientific research because nobelium metal has not been prepared in quantities larger than a few atoms.

How Dangerous Is Nobelium?

The radioactive properties of the nobelium atoms that have been so far produced make this chemical a highly dangerous and toxic substance.

Environmental Effects of Nobelium

So far, the biological role of nobelium is unknown due to the lack of scientific knowledge of this element. 

Isotopes of Nobelium

There are a total of 12 radioactive isotopes of the element nobelium. Resembling the chemical properties of the other synthetically produced transuranium elements, nobelium also has no stable isotopes.

With a half-life of 51(10) seconds, nobelium-254 was the first form of this chemical to be identified. The radioisotope nobelium-259 is the longest living form of this transuranium element, with a half-life of 58 minutes. This form of nobelium is the most stable one. It first decays into fermium-255 through alpha decay, then into mendelevium-259 through electron capture or spontaneous fission.


[n 1]

ZNIsotopic mass (Da)

[n 2][n 3]



[n 4]



Spin and


[n 5][n 6]

Excitation energy[n 6]
250No102148250.08756(22)#5.7(8) μsSF (99.95%)(various)0+
α (.05%)246Fm
β+ (2.5×10−4%)250Md
251No102149251.08894(12)#0.78(2) sα (89%)247Fm7/2+#
SF (10%)(various)
β+ (1%)251Md
252No102150252.088967(10)2.27(14) sα (73.09%)248Fm0+
SF (26.9%)(various)
β+ (1%)252Md
253No[n 7]102151253.090564(7)1.62(15) minα (80%)249Fm(9/2−)#
β+ (20%)253Md
SF (10−3%)(various)
254No102152254.090956(11)51(10) sα (89.3%)250Fm0+
β+ (10%)254Md
SF (.31%)(various)
255No102153255.093191(16)3.1(2) minα (61.4%)251Fm(1/2+)
β+ (38.6%)255Md
256No102154256.094283(8)2.91(5) sα (99.44%)252Fm0+
SF (.55%)(various)
EC (.01%)256Md
257No102155257.096888(7)25(2) sα (99%)253Fm(7/2+)
β+ (1%)257Md
258No102156258.09821(11)#1.2(2) msSF (99.99%)(various)0+
α (.01%)254Fm
β+β+ (rare)258Fm
259No102157259.10103(11)#58(5) minα (75%)255Fm(9/2+)#
EC (25%)259Md
SF (<10%[1])(various)
260No102158260.10264(22)#106(8) msSF(various)0+
262No[n 8]102160262.10746(39)#~5 msSF(various)0+

Source: Wikipedia

List of Nobelium Compounds 

Chemical compounds in which nobelium participates as one of the components have not been made yet. It’s assumed that the element would have adopted the +3 oxidation state in a hypothetical compound. 

5 Interesting Facts and Explanations

  1. Alfred Nobel is a Swedish philanthropist, chemist, engineer, and industrialist. He is known as the inventor of dynamite and other explosive substances. 
  2. A disaster that occurred in Nobel’s nitroglycerin factory led to the death even of his younger brother Emil, along with several other employees. Feeling responsible for the damage and deaths his discovery causes upon improper handling or misuse as a weapon, Nobel felt obliged to contribute in some way to humanity.
  3. The Nobel Prize for the ultimate achievement in the fields of Physics, Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine, Literature and Peace was established according to Alfred Nobel’s will and financed by his personal fortune left in a will as a support of the science for the betterment of the world. The Nobel Prize in Chemistry is awarded by The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Stockholm, Sweden.
  4. Nobelium-254 was the first form of this chemical element that has been correctly identified by its discoverers.
  5. The Lawrence Radiation Laboratory is nowadays renamed the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory.