Electronic structure theory of the superheavy elements

Ephraim Eliav, Stephan Fritzsche, Uzi Kaldor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


High-accuracy calculations of atomic properties of the superheavy elements (SHE) up to element 122 are reviewed. The properties discussed include ionization potentials, electron affinities and excitation energies, which are associated with the spectroscopic and chemical behavior of these elements, and are therefore of considerable interest. Accurate predictions of these quantities require high-order inclusion of relativity and electron correlation, as well as large, converged basis sets. The Dirac-Coulomb-Breit Hamiltonian, which includes all terms up to second order in the fine-structure constant α, serves as the framework for the treatment; higher-order Lamb shift terms are considered in some selected cases. Electron correlation is treated by either the multiconfiguration self-consistent-field approach or by Fock-space coupled cluster theory. The latter is enhanced by the intermediate Hamiltonian scheme, allowing the use of larger model (P) spaces. The quality of the calculations is assessed by applying the same methods to lighter homologs of the SHEs and comparing with available experimental information. Very good agreement is obtained, within a few hundredths of an eV, and similar accuracy is expected for the SHEs. Many of the properties predicted for the SHEs differ significantly from what may be expected by straightforward extrapolation of lighter homologs, demonstrating that the structure and chemistry of SHEs are strongly affected by relativity. The major scientific challenge of the calculations is to find the electronic structure and basic atomic properties of the SHE and assign its proper place in the periodic table. Significant recent developments include joint experimental-computational studies of the excitation spectrum of Fm and the ionization energy of Lr, with excellent agreement of experiment and theory, auguring well for the future of research in the field.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)518-550
Number of pages33
JournalNuclear Physics A
StatePublished - 2015


  • Coupled cluster methods
  • Electron correlation
  • Multiconfiguration SCF
  • Relativity
  • Superheavy elements

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Nuclear and High Energy Physics


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