New Element Names Released


Exciting news in the area of new elements – the names of the four latest elements have been proposed.

The existence of elements 113, 115, 117 and 118 were confirmed earlier this year by Russian and Japanese scientists, and IUPAC have announced their suggested names earlier this week.

Element 113, discovered by Kosuke Morita’s research group at RIKEN in Japan, will be named Nihonium, chemical symbol Nh. The element is named after Japan itself, from the Japanese word Nihon, and will be the first East Asian name to appear on the periodic table.

Elements 115 and 117 are both geographically named, being Moscovium (Mc) and Tennessine (Ts) respectively. Moscovium takes its name from the location of the Joint Institute of Nuclear Research (JINR), Moscow, and Tennessine is inspired from the area of the US where a great deal of superheavy element research is conducted, Tennessee. These names celebrate the collaboration between Russia and the US on the discovery of these elements.

The same group affectionately named element 118, Oganesson (Og), after Russian nuclear physicist Yuri Oganessian. Oganessian works at the JINR, and has had a hand in the discovery of numerous superheavy elements, including element 117. This move may prove controversial, as it’s only the second time an element has been named after a living scientist. When Seaborgium was named after Glenn Seaborg in 1993, IUPAC initially rejected the name.

Personally, I think these are very apt names for these new elements, which are not only easy to pronounce but make perfect sense. IUPAC will now put the names up for public scrutiny for a period of 5 months, so time will tell if they’ll stick. I certainly hope so!



Tidbit: Fresh Evidence for Element 115!


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.