4 New Elements on the Updated Periodic Table

A collaboration between researchers in Japan, Russia, and the United States has resulted in the discovery of four new elements. It has been confirmed that elements Ununtrium (atomic number 113), Ununpentium (atomic number 115), Ununseptium (atomic number 117), and Ununoctium (atomic number 118) have been discovered. These newly discovered elements do not officially have names yet, because the scientists are still trying to decide on what to call them.

The discovery of these new elements is a huge accomplishment within the science community.

“The 7th period of the periodic table of elements is now complete” a member of the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry said.

These discoveries were also a major accomplishment for the researchers as well. This was especially a life changing moment for researchers at the Riken Institute.

“This has been a monumental discovery for us because it is the first element on the periodic table found in Asia”, a researcher at the Riken Institute said.

Ununtrium, also known as element 113 was discovered at Riken Institute. The three other elements were discovered by a collaborative effort among the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Dubna, Russia and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California.

These four new elements are classified as “superheavy”, which is the designation given to elements with more than 104 protons. They were created by using particle accelerators to shoot beams of nuclei at other, heavier, target nuclei. The new elements’ existence were confirmed by further experiments that reproduced them; however, it was only for a short amount of time.

“A particular difficulty in establishing these new elements is that they decay into unknown isotopes of slightly lighter elements that also need to be unequivocally identified,” Paul Karol, chair of the IUPAC’s Joint Working Party said.

With the additions, the bottom of the periodic table now looks a bit like a completed crossword puzzle, which is causing people to have questions about the next row, the eighth period.

“There are a couple of laboratories that have already taken shots at making elements 119 and 120 but with no evidence yet of success,” Karol said.

“The eighth period should be very interesting because relativistic effects on electrons become significant and difficult to pinpoint. It is in the electron behavior, perhaps better called electron psychology, that the chemical behavior is embodied,” Karol said.

Karol says that researchers will continue seeking the alleged but highly probable “island of stability” at or near element 120 or perhaps 126, where elements might be found to exist long enough to study their chemistry.

“I cannot wait to see what is in store for the history of the periodic table as well as the history of chemistry,” chemistry teacher, Laura Ruttig said.

With the new addition of these four elements, who knows what other changes are in store for the future. These additions are proof that anything can happen if you stay focused and work towards your goal of accomplishing what people think are the impossible. Maybe a student or someone else in the community will be inspired by these researchers and make an extraordinary discovery of their own sometime in the future. It is important for students to understand that nothing is impossible, and this is proof of exactly that.

[Updated Aug. 18, 2017: This article has been reformatted for consistency.]