Rutherfordium Facts - Rf or Element 104

Rutherfordium Chemical & Physical Properties

Rutherfordium is named in honor of Ernest Rutherford, the father of nuclear physics.
Rutherfordium is named in honor of Ernest Rutherford, the father of nuclear physics. Print Collector/Getty Images / Getty Images

The element rutherfordium is a synthetic radioactive element that is predicted to exhibit properties similar to those of hafnium and zirconium. No one really knows, since only minute quantities of this element have been produced to date. The element is likely a solid metal at room temperature. Here are additional Rf element facts:

Element Name: Rutherfordium

Atomic Number: 104

Symbol: Rf

Atomic Weight: [261]

Discovery: A. Ghiorso, et al, L Berkeley Lab, USA 1969 - Dubna Lab, Russia 1964

Electron Configuration: [Rn] 5f14 6d2 7s2

Element Classification: Transition Metal

Word Origin: Element 104 was named in honor of Ernest Rutherford, although discovery of the element was contested, so the official name was not approved by the IUPAC until 1997. The Russian research team had proposed the name kurchatovium for element 104.

Appearance: Rutherfordium is predicted to be a radioactive synthetic metal, solid at room temperature and pressure.

Crystal Structure: Rf is predicted to have a hexagonal close-packed crystal structure similar to that of its congener, hafnium.

Isotopes: All of the isotopes of rutherfordium are radioactive and synthetic. The most stable isotope, Rf-267, has a half-life around 1.3 hours.

Sources of Element 104: Element 104 has not been found in nature. It is only produced by nuclear bombardment or decay of heavier isotopes. In 1964, researchers at the Russian's facility at Dubna bombarded a plutonium-242 target with neon-22 ions to produce the isotope most likely rutherfordium-259. In 1969, scientists at the University of California at Berkeley bombarded a californium-249 target with carbon-12 ions to produce alpha decay of rutherfordium-257.

Toxicity: Rutherfordium is expected to be harmful to living organisms due to its radioactivity. It is not an essential nutrient for any known life.

Uses: At present, element 104 has no practical uses and is only application to research.

Rutherfordium Fast Facts

  • Element Name: Rutherfordium
  • Element Symbol: Rf
  • Atomic Number: 104
  • Appearance: Solid metal (predicted)
  • Group: Group 4 (Transition Metal)
  • Period: Period 7
  • Discovery: Joint Institute for Nuclear Research and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (1964, 1969)


Fricke, Burkhard. "Superheavy elements a prediction of their chemical and physical properties." Recent Impact of Physics on Inorganic Chemistry, Structure and Bonding, Volume 21, Springer Link, December 3, 2007.

Ghiorso, A.; Nurmia, M.; Harris, J.; Eskola, K.; Eskola, P. (1969). "Positive Identification of Two Alpha-Particle-Emitting Isotopes of Element 104". Physical Review Letters. 22 (24): 1317–1320. doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.22.1317

Hoffman, Darleane C.; Lee, Diana M.; Pershina, Valeria (2006). "Transactinides and the future elements". In Morss; Edelstein, Norman M.; Fuger, Jean. The Chemistry of the Actinide and Transactinide Elements (3rd ed.). Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Springer Science+Business Media. ISBN 1-4020-3555-1.

mla apa chicago
Your Citation
Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. "Rutherfordium Facts - Rf or Element 104." ThoughtCo, Aug. 26, 2020, Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. (2020, August 26). Rutherfordium Facts - Rf or Element 104. Retrieved from Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. "Rutherfordium Facts - Rf or Element 104." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 10, 2023).