A paper published today in Physical Review Letters describes the work carried out by Rudolph and co-workers in Sweden, who claim to have formed 30 atoms of element 115. Scientists have been chasing this element for years, as it was suspected to be part of an ‘island’ of very stable superheavy elements.
Element 115, known as Ununpentium, was thought to be created in Russia in 2004, but IUPAC decided that these results were inconclusive. Both the Russian scientists and Rudolph’s group used the technique of firing Calcium at Americium, but with 30 sightings observed these results may finally confirm the formation if this illusive element.
Furthermore, the group are hoping that their X-ray results will prove once and for all that element 115 has been formed, as the x-rays which were emitted from the atoms should be unique to this new element. Also, with more experimentation and analysis, and the creation of even more atoms, this x-ray spectroscopy will hopefully give some insight into the properties and energy levels of this element.
As a chemist, I’m very interested in the elements, and the possible confirmation of the creation of a new element is always exciting. Little is known about the superheavy elements, and scientists are keen to synthesise new examples so that their properties can be discovered and theories about possible new superheavy elements can be proven once and for all.
This is a major result for chemists and physicists alike, and could be paving for the way for new discoveries and information about an element which, up until now, has remained very much a mystery.