This Day In History: 1962-08-02

Less than two months after Neil Bartlett’s announcement of the discovery of the first true chemical compound of a noble gas element, PtXeF4, Howard Classen, Henry Selig and John Malm, of the Argonne Laboratory prepared the first binary fluoride of xenon – XeF4 (see photo). They obtained large white crystals of this compound by heating 5 volumes of fluorine to 1 volume of xenon at 400C in a nickel container for 1 hour, followed by rapid cooling.  Some unexpected analytical results of their compound delayed the announcement of their findings, but it was finally made in a note sent to the Journal of the American Chemical Society on 20 August. By varying the proportions of fluorine and xenon these chemists also obtained the difluoride (XeF2) and the hexafluoride (XeF6).