A new research paper has been published by an international team of researchers that confirms the existence of a new super-heavy element, element 117, named ununseptium- chemical symbol Uus.
The heaviest ever known element has been created by scientists in Germany, making it a step closer to become an official member of the periodic table.
The metal first reported by a team of Russian and American scientists in 2010 is an atom with 117 protons in its nucleus which was missing on the periodic table of elements. These super-heavy elements, which include all the elements beyond atomic number 104, are not found naturally on Earth, and thus have to be created synthetically within a laboratory.
Seventy-two scientists and engineers from over 16 institutions around the world joined hands confirming the existence of element 117.
Andrei Popeko, a senior official at the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Dubna, outside Moscow, said that it could take up to a year before it can be given a new name.
Super-heavy elements, which include all the elements beyond atomic number 104, on the periodic table, aren’t observed in nature. They can only be created synthetically by blasting two different types of nuclei at each other in a particle accelerator. Uranium, which has 92 protons, is the heaviest natural occurring element in nature, but
heavier elements can artificially be created by adding protons into an atomic nucleus through nuclear fusion reactions.
The team, working at GSI Helmholtz Centre for Heavy Ion Research, an accelerator laboratory located in Darmstadt, Germany, observed the creation of four atoms of element 117, though they decayed into other elements within milliseconds.
After being observed in multiple experiments, the element ascends for review: the International Unions of Pure and Applied Physics and Chemistry will decide whether the evidence is strong enough to give the element a permanent position in the periodic table.
The approval will give the element 117 a proper name—”ununseptium” is just a place holder, derived from the Latin for “one one seven.”
“This is of paramount importance as even longer-lived isotopes are predicted to exist in a region of enhanced nuclear stability,” explains Professor Christoph Düllmann, who led the study.