Behold! Your chemistry books are going to be heavy. Not that they are less heavy today. But four new members of periodic table are here to add more pages. The seventh row of the periodic table is now complete by addition of 113,115,117 and 118(atomic number of the added elements).
These synthetic elements were discovered by teams of scientists in Japan, Russia, and America since 2011. Elements 115,117 and 118 were created in a particle accelerator at Lawrence Livermore Laboratory in California with joint collaboration of Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Dubna, Russia. They have total discovered six elements till now having support of Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee. 113 was born in Riken Institute in Japan. They call it “First element of periodic table found in Asia”.
These elements last only for a dozen milliseconds before vanishing back to smaller nuclei. The elements are classified as “super-heavy” like all others having more than 104 protons. They are created in particle accelerator by shooting beams of smaller nuclei at heavier target nuclei.
The confirmation for 115 was made in 2013 when Swedish scientists explained “shooting a beam of calcium, which has 20 protons, into a thin film of americium, which has 95 protons can create element 115 for a fraction of second”.
“A particular difficulty in establishing these new elements is that they decay into hitherto unknown isotopes of to be unequivocally identified” said Paul Karol, chair of International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC). The elements are temporarily named as Ununtrium(113), Ununpentium(115), Ununseptium(117) and Ununoctium(118). Meanwhile every discovery team has been instructed to submit names for the new elements. As said by IUPAC international guidelines for choosing name of an element states “can be named after a mythological concept, a mineral, a place, a property or a scientist”.
As the last row (eighth one) of the periodic table is still incomplete, Karol was asked about what’s the good news for it. Karol said “There are couple of laboratories that have already taken shots at making element 119 and 120 but with no evidence yet of success”. As per his email “the eighth period should be very interesting because relativistic effects on the electrons become significant and difficult to pinpoint. It is in electron behaviour, perhaps better than electron psychology, that the better chemical behaviour is embodied”.
Meanwhile chemistry geeks all around the worlds are busy in selecting a proper name for the new elements. The excitement touches a nerve as it’s quite a similar fashion like selecting a new born baby’s name. The last addition in the periodic table was made five years ago when element 114 and 116 were named as Flerovium and Livermorium respectively.
When asked how long this journey of element is going to be? Karol says the researchers will continue seeking “ the alleged but highly probable island of stability at or near element 120 or perhaps 126” where elements might be found to exist enough to study their chemistry.
The search for an element which can give a new hope for making things “better” drives these efforts. Soon in future we will be having an element of light source or like one imagined as a sorcerer’s stone in stories which can turn anything into gold. These are still imagination but that’s what keep them going. A hope to become new!