The seventh row of the periodic table has been filled after a Japanese team and Russians and Americans working together were credited with the discovery of four elements.The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry found last week that researchers at the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Dubna and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California had gathered sufficient evidence to claim the discovery of elements 115, 117 and 118.
IUPAC awarded credit for the discovery of the synthetic highly radioactive element 113 to scientists at Japan’s Riken Institute.
Both groups synthesised the elements by slamming lighter nuclei into each other and tracking the following decay of the radioactive superheavy elements.
The Riken team led by Kosuke Morita,above, successfully created the new synthetic element three times between 2004 and 2012.
It is the first element on the periodic table to be discovered and named by Asian scientists.
Riken had earlier said japonium might be proposed as a name for element 113, which provisionally had been named ununtrium.
However, Professor Morita has no specific candidates under consideration. He planned to name it next year.
“I feel grateful that the name will be included in the table for the first time after this recognition,” he said. “Now that we have conclusively demonstrated the existence of element 113, we plan to look to the uncharted territory of element 119 and beyond.”
Discoveries of atomic elements have often involved competition between scientists. The news is a morale booster for Riken, which suffered a scandal last year in which it had to withdraw what was once billed as a breakthrough in stem cell reproduction by a young researcher.
“To scientists, this is of greater value than an Olympic gold medal,” said Ryoji Noyori, former Riken president and Nobel laureate in chemistry.
The Morita team used Riken’s linear accelerator and ion separator to search for new synthetic superheavy elements, beginning in the late 1980s. In 2003, his team began working to create element 113 by bombarding a thin layer of bismuth with zinc ions travelling at about 10 per cent the speed of light. Isotopes of element 113 have a very short half-life, lasting for less than a thousandth of a second, making its discovery very difficult. After twice succeeding to create it, the group tried for seven years before further success, in August 2012.
With many thanks to The Australian
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The periodic table is the most powerful tool chemists have for organizing chemical information. Without it, chemistry would be a chaotic, confusing jumble of seemingly random observations. What makes the periodic table really invaluable is its use as a predictive tool. You can predict a lot about the chemical behavior of an element if you know where it is on the periodic table.
We give credit to Dmitri Mendeleev for the first Periodic Table. He organized the elements in his table in order of atomic mass. Henry Moseley modified the table, ordering the elements in terms of atomic number. This is the periodic table we use today.
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Written and Produced by Kimberly Hatch Harrison
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