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A New Element Is Discovered: Scientists in Germany Create and Observe Element 117, Name Coming Soon

First Posted: May 04, 2014 05:29 PM EDT
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It is not often that a new element is added to the periodic table but it could be soon that high schools around the world will have their charts labeling all of the known elements updated.

Back in 2010, a group of American and Russian scientists first discovered element 117 in a joint collaboration. Temporarily known as ununseptium, the super heavy element is created by bombarding Berkelium (atomic number 97) with Calcium ions at high speed, according to Forbes. This created a fusion of the calcium atoms and Berkelium to produce the new element, which then quickly decayed into elements 115 and 113 as observed by the joint scientific team.

Forbes explains that like any other super heavy element, ununseptium is highly unstable and only exists for fractions of seconds before decaying. Scientists even discovered the element through its decay. However, through their discovery scientists also found that two isotopes produced during decay are isotopes of elements 103 and 105, which are among the most stable super heavy isotopes.  

Yet, as Forbes adds, for this new discovery to be official it needs to be independently confirmed. According to Live Science, that is what happened a couple of days ago. A team at the GSI Helmholtz Center for Heavy Ion Research, an accelerator laboratory in Darmstadt, Germany, said they created and observed element 117.

Super heavy elements, or any element beyond atomic number 104, does not exist in nature and must be created in laboratories. According to the report, the heaviest natural element is Uranium but scientist can make heavier elements by adding protons to an atom's nucleus through nuclear fusion reactions.

The findings of the study were published on May 1 on the journal Physical Review Letters and now the only step in the way of it becoming a new element is the IUPAC. The Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) will form a committee that will assess the findings and determine whether to formally accept element 117 and give it a formal name.

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