New Year, New Elements


The new elements on the periodic table will go in this designated area.

The New Year started off with a bang for chemists all over the world. Elements 113, 115, 117, and 118 were added to the periodic table after years of confirmation. Classified as “superheavy” elements, which have more than 104 protons, these new additions complete the seventh period on the periodic table.

Element 113, with the temporary name “Ununtrium,” was discovered by the Riken Institute in Japan, making it the first element to be discovered by an Asian country. Elements 115, 117, and 118, with the temporary names “Ununpentium,” “Ununseptium,” and “Ununoctium,” respectively, were discovered by collaboration between the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Dubna, Russia and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California.

Though these elements are new to the periodic table, their existence has been known for several years. Element 118 was discovered in 2002, element 115 was discovered in 2003, element 113 was discovered in 2004, and element 117 was discovered in 2010. They were not added to the periodic table immediately because they had to undergo extensive confirmation research.

The reason why the tests took so long is that some elements made in a lab only exist for less than a thousandth of a second, such as element 113. “A particular difficulty in establishing these new elements is that they decay into hitherto unknown isotopes of slightly lighter elements that also need to be unequivocally identified,” said Paul Karol, the chair of the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry’s (IUPAC) Joint Working Party.

This is big for chemistry students, too. “I think the discovery of new elements is important because it will lead to a greater understanding of chemistry. We have no idea what these elements will be used for, but some of them could end up being incredibly helpful,” said sophomore chemistry student Helen Holderread.

Even though their discoveries have just been added to the periodic table, the scientists are back to looking for new elements. Who knows, the next element discovery could be monumental in many fields, and the discoverer might be a North Atlanta warrior.