Elements 113, 115, 117 and 118 will land on the periodic table and join the other more than one hundred elements, according to an announcement made by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC).
In 2012, IUPAC added two new elements to the periodic table and they were 114 (flerovium) and 116 (livermorium).
Jan Reedijk, president of the Inorganic Chemistry Division of IUPAC, said that the chemistry community is very excited to see the periodic table completed down to the seventh row.
The new elements were created in a lab and they cannot be found in nature, researchers said. These super-heavy elements – or elements with atomic numbers higher than 104 – were produced inside particle accelerators by blasting beams of heavy nuclei at each other.
Currently, super-heavy elements serve no practical use since their life-spans usually range from a few minutes to just a few milliseconds. For example, element 113 has a short life: it decays after just about a thousandth of a second.
The four new elements now have placeholder symbols and names that stand for the atomic number of the elements. The atomic number or proton number, represents the number of protons found in the nucleus of an element’s atom; therefore element 113 now has the temporary name ununtrium (Uut) – which means one-one-three – and element 115 is ununpentium (Uup).
The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry rules stated that an element must be named after a country (or other place), a mineral, a mythological concept, a scientists, or a property. There also has to be a stylistic consistency; for instance, most elements end in “iums” and have Latin-sounding names.
Element 113 was produced by a Japanese research team at Rikagaku Kenkyūsho (RIKEN). Researchers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Dubna, Russia, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee collaborated with each other to produce elements 115 and 117.
In 2006, researchers produced element 118, but it took them years to confirm the element’s existence. They are usually detected with the help of the secondary elements they become.
Paul J. Karol, chair of the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry and International Union of Pure and Applied Physics Joint Working Party, said that it is quite difficult to detect these elements, because they often decay into unknown isotopes that also need to be unequivocally identified.
Scientists are now working on new elements that would go onto the eighth row of the periodic table. According to Karol, some labs have already taken shots at producing elements 119 and 120. As of now, there is no clear evidence of success, Karol added.
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