Hafnium is a shiny, silvery metal that is corrosion resistant. IT is a chemical element and is represented by the atomic number 72 and the chemical symbol Hf. It is not found in its free form on Earth, but it can be found combined with zirconium in most naturally occurring zirconium minerals. Zircon is the mineral that most commercially available hafnium is extracted from and the largest deposits of zircon ores are in Brazil and Australia. Hafnium is relatively rare and it is predicted that the world could run out of this element in the next 10 years. The element was discovered relatively recently although it was predicted many years before. Let’s find out who discovered hafnium and when it was discovered.
Who discovered hafnium?
The search for hafnium began in 1914 when Henry Moseley’s experiments with X-ray spectroscopy showed scientists that there were gaps in the known periodic table. Many people claimed to discover the missing element in 1914, but these discoveries were later proven to be incorrect. In 1923 Dirk Coster and Georg von Hevesy (pictured) were searching for the missing element in zirconium ores (which was suggested by Radiochemist Fritz Paneth) and it was in this same year that they discovered the element in zircon by X-ray spectroscopy. A year later hafnium was separated from zirconium for the first time. Coster and von Hevesy named the element after the latin word for “Copenhagen”, where the discovery was made.
Did you know?
The existence of hafnium was predicted by Dmitri Mendeleev in his 1869 periodic table, but he later changed his prediction. The discovery is 1923 showed that his first prediction had actually been correct!
Hafnium was a tricky element to find. In fact, it was the second last non-radioactive element to be found!