Periodic table's seventh row finally filled as four new elements are added in 2015
Discovery of four super-heavy chemical elements by scientists in Russia, America and Japan has been verified by experts and formally added to table
Four new elements have been added to the periodic table, finally completing the table’s seventh row and rendering science
textbooks around the world instantly out of date.
The four were verified on 30 December 2015 by the US-based International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry, the global organisation that governs chemical nomenclature,
terminology and measurement.
The elements, discovered by scientists in Japan, Russia and America, are the first to be added to the table since 2011, when
elements 114 and 116 were added.The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) has announced that four
new elements with atomic numbers of 113, 115, 117, and 118 will be added to the periodic table.
This is a big deal, since these four elements all super heavy, lab-made, and very radioactive complete the unfilled spaces on the seventh row of the periodic table. Their discoveries also open
the door for scientists to create even heavier, perhaps useful, synthetic elements in the future. These new elements have
Atomic nos.113, 115, 117, and 118 i.e so many protons in their nuclei respectively. Atoms with that many protons are too
unstable to exist in nature. That's because protons naturally repel one another. In smaller atoms, the strong nuclear force
— the powerful energy that is unleashed in a nuclear explosion keeps the protons bonded. But in larger atoms, it loses its
grip, and the atoms decay into more stable elements with fewer protons.
IUPAC has now initiated the process of formalising names and symbols for these elements temporarily named as ununtrium,
(Uut or element 113), ununpentium (Uup, element 115), ununseptium (Uus, element 117), and ununoctium (Uuo, element 118).
The elements, which currently bear placeholder names, will be officially named by the teams that discovered them in the coming
months. Element 113 will be the first element to be named in Asia.
It may be noted that Uranium, with 92 protons, is the heaviest element to exist naturally.
Process of creating these:
Elements with very high atomic numbers have to be created by smashing together two smaller atoms in the hope that some
of their protons stick together.To create 117, Scientific American explains, the researchers smashed calcium nuclei
(with 20 protons apiece) into a target of berkelium (97 protons per atom). But this is much harder than it sounds. Berkelium
is extraordinarily rare; it took the team more than two years to stockpile 13 milligrams of it for the purpose of the experiment.
Once created, element 117 almost instantaneously decays and disappears. It has a half life (the amount of time it takes for
half a given amount of the element to decay) of fifty-thousandths of a second. Element 113 — created by bombarding bismuth with zinc ions ,is also fleeting: It decays in less
than a thousandth of a second, its Japanese discoverers report.
And to be clear, these elements weren't just discovered. Labs have had evidence of their existence for years. But IUPAC
has a lengthy process to verify claims.
The body awarded credit for the discovery of element 113, which had also been claimed by the Russians and Americans,
to a team of scientists from the Riken institute in Japan. Kosuke Morita, who was leading the research at Riken, said his
team now planned to look to the uncharted territory of element 119 and beyond.
IUPAC credits a joint Russian-American team with the discovery of 115, 117, and 118, and a Japanese team with the
discovery of 113.
The four new elements, all of which are synthetic, were discovered by slamming lighter nuclei into each other and
tracking the following decay of the radioactive super heavy elements.Like other super heavy elements that populate
the end of the periodic table, they only exist for fractions of a second before decaying into other elements.
Scientists’ passion behind discovering new elements:
So why prove the existence of these barely alive elements with no apparent practical value? One, because we can.
It's important to prove scientific theories with observational data. It strengthens further predictions we can make off
the periodic table.Two, because we may, one day, create some very heavy, very useful new elements.Quantum theory
posits that it may be possible to create extremely heavy elements with more than 120 protons that are also very stable
(meaning they'd resist decay). These elements would exist in an "island of stability" at the end of the periodic table, and
no one knows what properties they might have.