Synthesising New Elements

Synthesising New Elements-7
Some elements that occur naturally are themselves unstable, and undergo radioactive decay to other, smaller element fragments.The superheavy elements take this to a whole new level.Work on discovering element 113 began all the way back in 2002, so it’s been a long wait for the scientists involved to see the fruits of their labours.

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What’s the incentive to create elemental entities that exist for milliseconds or less before winking out of existence by transforming into other elements that are already known?

Obviously these elements don’t have any useful applications, but the scientists running the experiments are holding out hope for the possibility of an ‘island of stability’.

If the country-name route is taken, though, Nihonium, after the Japanese name for Japan, is more likely.

Alternatively, it could be named after the RIKEN institute at which it was discovered.

It’s not quite enough for the atoms to simply bash into each other; they must instead do so at an incredibly high speed.

In order to accomplish this, a particle accelerator is used, which accelerates ions to a speed of millions of miles per hour.

So it seems likely that this time next year, we’ll finally be able to induct these four new elements into the periodic table properly, and the seventh row of the periodic table will then be complete.

You might well be left wondering what the motivation is for the scientists who work on discovering these elements.

They, too, undergo radioactive decay fractions of a second after being produced, and this radioactive decay can be detected.

More often than not, the evidence for the creation of a new element is the tell-tale trail of elements it decays into shortly after its creation.


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