Researchers Add 4 New Elements to the Periodic Table
Researchers from Japan, Russia, and US have added four new elements to the periodic table which filled in the seventh row. Elements 113, 115, 117, and 118 are temporarily called ununtrium, ununpentium, ununseptium, and ununoctium respectively until their discoverers assign them permanent names (per approval of an international governing body).
“The 7th period of the periodic table of elements is complete,” says the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC). The additional elements came after almost 5 years from the discovery of elements 114 and 116 (the flerovium and livermorium, respectively).
The elements have been discovered only recently. Elements 113 was discovered by a group of researchers from the Riken Institute in Japan, making it the first element found in Asia. The three other elements, on the other hand, have been discovered through collaborative efforts of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California and Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Dubna, Russia.
Proving the Existence of the Elements
All of these new elements are categorized as “super heavy”, a classification assigned to elements that have more than 104 protons in their nucleus. They are synthetic or man-made and extremely unstable. Researchers pushed the nuclei of two elements together to prove their existence. Apparently, if two sets of protons and neutrons in the nuclei stuck together (no matter how brief), they would prove the existence of a new element.
Experts say that in order to create element 117, researchers have to smash calcium nuclei (with 20 protons) into berkelium (with 97 protons). However, this task is much harder than it actually sounds. Why? Because berkelium is a rare element.; it took the research team over 2 years to collect 13 milligrams of the element for this experiment.
As soon a 117 was created, it almost immediately decays and disappears because it has half-life of fifty-thousandths of a second. Element 113 (made by pushing bismuth and zinc together), on the other hand, is also fleeting; it decays in less than a thousandth per second, according to the Japanese researchers.
Possibility of New Elements
With the recent additions to the periodic table, the bottom part now looks like a completed puzzle, which led us to ask about the 8th period.
“There are a couple of laboratories that have already taken shots at making elements 119 and 120 but with no evidence yet of success. The eighth period should be very interesting because relativistic effects on electrons become significant and difficult to pinpoint. It is in the electron behavior, perhaps better called electron psychology, that the chemical behavior is embodied,” said Paul Karol, the chairman of the IUPAC’s Joint Working Party.
According to him, researchers are continually seeking he probable new element with a highly probable “island of stability” near element 120 or 126. They are hoping that the elements would exist long enough that they could study them.
The reason why scientists are looking for new elements is that they are hoping that they could find a stable element that can be used for practical purposes. Along the way, they learn more about the nature of atoms.