Two separate teams of of Russian and American, respectively Japanese scientists found four super-heavy, highly unstable chemical elements, which have been recently added to the table’s seventh row. The last time the periodic table was updated was in 2011 when elements 114 and 116 were unveiled.
The four new additions were vetted by a panel of experts called the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) on Dec. 30.
IUPAC recently announced that elements 115, 117, and 118 were indeed discovered by the Russian and American researchers, but it credited a Japanese team at the Riken institute for the discovery of element 113. The latter element was also claimed by the Russian-U.S. group.
Kosuke Morita, lead author of the discovery and researcher with the Riken Institute, announced that his team is already working on finding element 119.
Ryoji Noyori who has led the institute for several years and was awarded the Nobel prize in chemistry 15 years ago, praised the feat and viewed it as being more valuable than the Olympic gold medal.
The new additions would probably be named after their discoverers in the following months. It is the first time Asia will name a chemical element for the periodic table. Members of the IUPAC’s Inorganic Chemistry Division expressed their content with the new additions and the fact that the seventh row is finally filled.
The group issued some temporary names for the elements by taking into consideration the number of protons in their nuclei–ununtrium for element 113, ununpentium for element 115, ununseptium for 117, and ununoctium for element 118.
But the new elements could officially be named after scientists, places, concepts, mythological creatures, or minerals. For instance element 112 was named after Nicolaus Copernicus, a 16th century astronomer who said that the sun was at the center of the known universe, not the Earth.
The new elements are not naturally occurring. They were discovered in the wake of several experiments and particle collisions. The team explained that they had to crash nuclei into one another and watch the super-heavy elements decay into other particles. The new additions are highly unstable and can last only up to a few seconds. Other heavy elements don’t even last long enough to see a second passing.
IUPAC and the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP) will issue two reports with more details on the new elements and the decision to expand the table. The papers will be published in the Pure and Applied Chemistry by the end of this year.
Image Source: Wikimedia
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