Scientists in Germany have finally confirmed that they have created a super heavy new element 117. However it will be some time before the new element finds its rightful place in the periodic table.
The discovery was made at the GSI Helmholtz Center for Heavy Ion Research, an accelerator laboratory located in Darmstadt, Germany when researchers created and observed atoms of element 117 which has been temporarily named as ununseptium.
The latest element has been named as 117 because the nucleus of the new element contained 117 protons. The elements beyond atomic number 104 have been made synthetically and cannot be found naturally on earth.
The heaviest element which is commonly found in nature is Uranium which has 92 protons. However researchers have been creating heavier elements by adding protons into the nucleus of heavier elements through nuclear fusion reaction.
If more protons or neutrons are added into any atomic nucleus the resultant atom is highly unstable. The super heavy elements last just for nano seconds before it decays. Scientists however predict that there exists an island of stability in the periodic table where the super heavy elements are much stable and can exist for a longer time than a few nano seconds. If the researchers are able to discover such an island and its elements could have untold practical uses for mankind.
Horst Stcker, scientific director at the GSI Helmholtz Center for Heavy Ion Research, said in a statement, “The successful experiments on element 117 are an important step on the path to the production and detection of elements situated on the ‘island of stability’ of super-heavy elements,”.
The element 117 was first reported by a team of American and Russian scientists who were working together at the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Dubna, Russia. Experiments to confirm the existence of the new element has been continuing since then.
The claims will be examined by a committee from the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC), the worldwide federation charged with standardizing nomenclature in chemistry.