Analogues of alcohols exist for all the heavier Group 16 elements, namely sulfur, selenium, and tellurium. Would polonium also be able to form a "polonol" like $\ce{CH3PoH}$?

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    $\begingroup$ It probably should. $\endgroup$ Commented May 15, 2021 at 21:49
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    $\begingroup$ it is monstrously hard to do chemistry on something as radioactive as polonium. A 1g sample would produce about 140W of heat from its radioactivity and would glow red. Small samples slowly evaporate (probably driven by alpha-particle spallation) making them very hazardous to work with. And even the chemistry in dilute solutions is heavily affected by reactions driven by the radiation not the inherent chemistry of the metal. $\endgroup$
    – matt_black
    Commented May 16, 2021 at 13:19
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    $\begingroup$ @matt not just for polonium, as you know. As one indication, look at the list of known oxidation states and note that most elements with less than two known states are highly radioactive ones with all isotopes having short half-lives. $\endgroup$ Commented May 16, 2021 at 14:38

1 Answer 1


As one might expect for an element with no long-lived isotopes, little is known about organopolonium compounds. What is known may be broadly divided into two categories [1,2; cited by Wikipedia]:

  • Compounds where polonium takes the place of a lighter chalcogen, acting more nearly parallel to sulfur, selenium and tellurium than to oxygen. Examples include polonoethers $\ce{R2Po}$ and arylpolonium halides $\ce{Ar2PoX2,Ar3PoX}$.

  • Complexes similar to those formed with metals. WP cites complexes with 2,3-butanediol and thiourea from Ref. [1].

All such compounds are known only in tracer amounts because of both chemical instability and rapid radioactive decay.


1. Zingaro, Ralph A. (2011). "Polonium: Organometallic Chemistry". Encyclopedia of Inorganic and Bioinorganic Chemistry. John Wiley & Sons. p. 1–3. https://doi.org/10.1002/9781119951438.eibc0182.

2. Murin, A. N.; Nefedov, V. D.; Zaitsev, V. M.; Grachev, S. A. (1960). "Production of organopolonium compounds by using chemical alterations taking place during the β-decay of RaE" (PDF). Dokl. Akad. Nauk SSSR (in Russian). 133 (1): 123–125. Retrieved 12 April 2020.


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