Four new elements discovered

The seventh row of the periodic table has been completed with the addition of four new super-heavy metals
11 January 2016


In an event unlikely to be repeated, four new elements have just been simultaneously added to the periodic table and they now complete the seventh row. However, the race is on to find more! Periodic Table

Since 2004, several studies have presented evidence for these new elements but only now have experts from the International Unions of Pure and Applied Chemistry and Physics reviewed the evidence and officially added them to the table.

But, how did scientists know that the periodic table was incomplete?

Elements are all defined and ordered in the periodic table by their atomic number. This is the number of positively charged protons within the centre of each atom. The atoms discovered this week were 113, 115, 117 and 118. In theory, there is an element for every possible number of protons.

When a Russian Chemist, Dmitri Mendeleev, constructed the first published version of the periodic table in 1869 he left gaps for undiscovered elements.  By studying the elements at an atomic level scientists have been steadily filling in these gaps ever since.

One of the reasons that these elements have only just been discovered and described is that they decay rapidly, losing protons, electrons and neutrons to form lighter elements.

This is why the new elements don't occur naturally and it was only possible to discover them by creating them in laboratories. By smashing together lighter elements, it is possible to briefly create these heavier elements so they can be studied.

The REIKEN collaboration team from Japan discovered Element 113 which is the first to be attributed to researchers in Asia.

The discovery of the other three new elements has been credited to collaborating teams from Russia and America.  

All four elements have temporary names at the moment and the teams that have been awarded responsibility for their creation are busy coming up with something more permanent.

Previous names have been inspired by many different things from mythology to scientists. About a quarter of the known elements, such as americium and francium, are named after places.

The new elements include a super-heavy metal and Motorhead fans have started a petition to name one of them Lemmium, after front man Lemmy Kilmister.

Whilst it's exciting that four new elements have been official added, there are still new elements to be discovered. Scientists are now looking to create and discover elements 119 onward which, because they are so large, may have new and exciting properties...


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