Element 117 – Ununseptium – has only been detected twice before by the same team of Russian scientists, but an independent confirmation of the presence of the element by researchers from GSI Helmholtz Centre for Heavy Ion Research in Germany may lead to the inclusion of this elusive element in the periodic table once and for all.
Scientists all over the world are trying to create new heavy elements in order to finally locate the ‘island of stability’ – where a group of very large but extremely stable elements are thought to exist, and this group of researchers were intending to synthesise the never before seen element 119 as part of this quest.
Unfortunately, this method of producing element 117 is not easily reproduced. The team tried fired titanium at berkelium, which itself is extremely unstable,produced only in small amounts in nuclear reactors and has a half life of less than a year. Therefore, experiments such as this take a significant amount of time to repeat.
The detection of new elements is always exciting, and the third detection of element 117 could be the push which finally sees it given its place on the periodic table. Watch this space!