new elements



What should we name the new elements? Chris Chapman, Chemistry World‘s comment editor, puts forward the case for his favourite…

The news that we have four new elements is, obviously, buttock-clenchingly exciting for chemistry name nerds. The four new confirmed elements – 113, 115, 117 and 118 – will now have a proper name instead of the tongue-twisting ununpentium and the like. This can be proposed by the discoverers, although the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (Iupac) will get the final say. According to its latest rules, currently out for consultation, the elements can be named after a mythological concept or character; a mineral; a place; a property of the element; or a scientist. The endings of the elements are already decided: 113 and 115 will end in ‘ium’, 117 ‘ine’, and 118 ‘on’.

© Everett Collection/REX Shutterstock

Captain America – © Everett Collection/REX Shutterstock

So here’s a suggestion to the Japanese Riken group (discoverers for 113) or the Russian-American collaboration who discovered 115. How about vibranium?

Vibranium, as any comic book nerd knows, is a key element that comprises Captain America’s shield, and gives the irritatingly squeaky clean hero a way to dink bullets away, or a handy Frisbee to take out some bothersome villains. It’s also the element that Tony Stark ‘invents’ in the abysmal Iron Man 2 to end his crippling palladium dependency. Bizarrely, in the movie in turns out the element’s structure was hidden by his father (John Slattery, playing exactly the same character as he did in Mad Men) in a diorama of a 1974 business expo. Tony proceeds to go on a drinking binge, hurl abuse at Don Cheadle and miraculously create the element at his Malibu pad with little more than his raw genius. (more…)

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In my blog post the other day about element 113, I mentioned that the process of going from a successful experiment to a successful claim of discovery is tortuous. It relies on researchers convincing a joint panel of experts representing the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (Iupac) and their physics counterpart, Iupap, that their evidence fulfils all the criteria for discovery of a new element.

A joint working party from Iupac and Iupap is currently considering claims relating to elements 113, 115, 117 and higher. Both the Japanese team from RIKEN and a Russian team from the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Dubna submitted claims relating to element 113 in May this year for the working party to consider. Kosuke Morita, the leader of the Japanese team has confirmed that they have asked the panel to take this latest paper into consideration along with their earlier results, but it will be down to the panel to decide. (more…)

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Japanese researchers have staked their claim to discovering element 113, based on results of massive ion bombardment experiments published today.

The team, led by Kosuke Morita at the RIKEN Nishina Centre for Accelerator-based Science in Wako, is hoping that its experiments will lead to the first naming of a new element by Japanese researchers. (more…)

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Georgy Flyerov

Georgy Flyorov is honoured in the naming of element 114

In a piece of showmanship no doubt intended to further raise the profile of chemistry, Nicole Moreau, president of Iupac, announced at the closing ceremony of the International Year of Chemistry the proposed names for elements 114 and 116, whose discovery was officially ratified in May of this year.

The discoverers of the brand new elements, the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Dubna, Russia and from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, California, US, agreed on the names flerovium (Fl) for element 114 and livermorium (Lv) for element 116. These names have been OK’d by Iupac’s inorganic chemistry division paving the way for the provisional recommendations. Now, the names are open for public comment and after five months the inorganic division will make a decision on whether or not to accept the new names.

Livermorium is obviously named after the lab, while flerovium is the Russian lab’s tribute to the physicist Georgy Flyorov. What do you think of the new names? What would you have called them?

Patrick Walter

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…but elements 113, 115 and 118 will have to wait a little longer to receive their official recognition from the International Union for Pure and Applied Chemistry (Iupac).

Both elements have been credited to a collaboration between Yuri Oganessian’s team at the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Dubna, Russia, and a team from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, US.

My guess is that these teams will now have to work out between them what to call the latest additions to the elemental lexicon. I’ll keep my ear to the ground for any official announcements, but in the meantime, has anyone got any suggestions?

(more…)

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The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has been bashing together nuclei again, but this time they were after lighter isotopes of previously discovered heavy elements.
Map of the isotopes and the fabled island of stability

The intrepid expedition towards the island of stability continues. Courtesy of Yuri Oganessian/Joint, Institute for Nuclear Research-Dubna

Many of the 20 strong team (who have published their results in the journal Physical Review Letters) were also involved in the confirmation of element 114 in September 2009, when the scientists made 286114 and 287114.


Traditionally element 114 has been viewed as an important goal for physicists because 298114 should be ‘doubly magic’, with both proton and neutron shells filled, but life’s never easy and other calculations suggest that the magic proton number should be 120 or 126 instead. The Berkley team have managed to make some heavier isotopes of 114 but it’s been hard work and the results haven’t been very stable. So instead of continually trying to add more neutrons to element 114 they decided to try and add less instead. (more…)

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iron-man-20091201-tony-stark

Regular readers of this blog will undoubtedly have realised by now that I have a bit of a thing for new elements – I’m not entirely sure why, but I think smashing atoms together to make completely new ones is particularly cool, and being able to give a name to one would be awesome. Maybe one day I’ll be rich enough to build a particle accelerator at home like Iron Man Tony Stark, but for now I’ll stick to getting my fix from the heavy-ion research community.

The latest update is that element 114 is tipping closer to an official spot on the table. While the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (Iupac) is currently considering claims for a series of elements heavier than 112 (which was officially dubbed copernicium in February this year), Christoph Düllman’s team at the GSI Hemholtz centre for heavy ion research in Darmstadt, Germany, have conjured another 13 atoms of superheavyweight 114.

This adds a significant amount of backing to the claim that Yuri Oganessian from Dubna, Russia, discovered 114 in the late 1990s. Heino Nitche from Berkeley, US, managed to make two atoms of 114 in September last year, but the German team’s new Transactinide separator and chemistry apparatus (Tasca) allowed them to produce many more atoms in their experiments.

It will still be a while before the Iupac committee makes its final rulings, but it looks likely that 114 will be high on their list with such solid evidence backing the claims, so watch this space.

Phillip Broadwith

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112stamp3

The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (Iupac) has finally rubber-stamped the naming of element number 112. Copernicium, with the symbol Cn, is named after the astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus.

After some light-hearted banter over the name and symbol for 112, it can finally take it’s rightful place on the newest editions of the periodic table.

With element 112 out of the way, the Iupac committee can now look into claims for the discovery of heavier elements. This will include element 114, and regular readers will remember that Heino Nitsche’s group at Berkeley, California recently added weight to a claim from Yuri Oganessian’s group in Dubna over 10 years ago.

118-118

However, the Iupac committee will apparently be considering claims for elements as heavy as 118. I wonder if a certain pair of moustachioed athletes will be staking a claim of entitlement for that one…

‘Element 118? Got your number!’

 

Phillip Broadwith

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copernicus

Well, it seems I’ve taken my eye off the ball on this one – the more clued-in members of the blogosphere noticed quite some time ago that the proposed symbol for the newly-ratified element 112 (dubbed copernicium) has been changed from Cp to Cn.

Given all the hoo-ha about the symbol Cp (see CW blog posts here, here and here for the full story), it’s not entirely surprising, but it does appear that the decision came much earlier in the process than any of us thought – this report from a meeting of the Iupac/Iupap joint working party in August doesn’t even mention Cp as a proposed symbol.

Sigurd Hofmann, who has the honour of naming element 112, will be recording a podcast for our Chemistry in its Element series sometime on the next few weeks, so tune in to hear the full story about the latest super-heavyweight to hit the periodic table. (more…)

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london-bus

Super-heavy elements are like English buses, it seems – you wait around for ages and then two come along at once.

Not only have we got the naming of element 112 to ponder, but a team from Berkeley have managed to confirm the creation of element 114 in some experiments by a Russian group over 10 years ago, popping up another stepping stone towards the fabled ‘island of stability’ at which point superheavy atoms might have lifetimes of hours, days or even millions of years (depending on your level of optimism).

It turns out that element 114 decays by emitting an alpha particle (2 protons and 2 neutrons) to make element 112, which literally makes copernicium the ‘daughter’ of the new element 114! (more…)

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