25 October 2012, 13:58

Russian chemists land on the island of stability

Russian chemists land on the island of stability

Russian scientists from the Dubna research hub and their American counterparts have added two more names to the periodic table.

The first experiments with superheavy elements began in the 1960s to prove the existence of the so-called “Island of Stability” - an undiscovered region in the periodic table where heavy elements become stable again.

The man-made elements 114 and 116 are now officially called Flerovium (Fl) and Livermorium (Lv). The first isotope of element 114 was created at the Flerov Laboratory of Nuclear Reactions in Dubna back in 1999 by colliding Plutonium-244 and Calcium-48 nuclei.

Atoms heavier than Uranium tend to be very short-lived but scientists managed to extend the element’s half-life by 2 seconds, which was enough to study it.

Element 116 was created in 2001, at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California. These elements can be man-made in labs only.

The experiments are a real breakthrough, says vice-president of Russia’s Academy of Sciences Sergey Aldoshin.

The discovery of new superheavy elements which could exist for longer than nanoseconds bring has confirmed the Island of Stability hypothesis which brings us to theories about the borders of nucleus stability and odd-shaped nuclei. I can congratulate us all on this discovery which can help to decipher another mystery of the Universe. (end)

The elements were first created more than 10 years ago, but subsequent testing was required to confirm their existence.

The names were chosen to honor Georgy Flerov, who began experiments with supergeheavy elements back in the 1960s and Lawrence Livermore whose laboratory assisted in the research.

The elements' official names were not approved until now by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC), which governs chemical nomenclature. The IUPAC president Tsutomu Katsuki spoke about the process.

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Recently, Dubna scientists have created some 50 heavy isotopes of already exiting elements and 6 new superheavy elements from 113 to 118. Now scientists are carrying out experiments to add them to the periodic table.

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