New elements complete seventh row of the periodic table | Science| In-depth reporting on science and technology | DW | 01.12.2016
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New elements complete seventh row of the periodic table

Officials have approved the names of four new elements. The new additions are named after a country, three cities and a scientist.

Top scientists finalized the names of four new elements in the periodic table, the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry announced on Wednesday.

The Bureau officially approved the names nihonium (Nh) for the element 113, moscovium (Mc) for element 115, tennessine (Ts) for 117, and oganesson (Og) for 118, following a five-month public review.

Nihonium, the first element to be discovered by Japanese scientists, comes from one of the Japanese words for Japan "nihon," literally "the land of the rising sun."

"The element, named for the first time by Japanese and in Asia, will occupy a place in the periodic table - an intellectual asset of mankind," Kosuke Morita, who the led the team at RIKEN Nishina Center for Accelerator-Based Science that created the element, said in a statement.

Periodensystem mit neuem Element Nihonium (picture-alliance/dpa/F. Robichon)

Team director, Kosuke Morita (right)

The Russian capital inspired the name moscovium, proposed by the joint team of Russian and US scientists that discovered elements 115 and 117, as much of their research and synthesis was conducted in the city.

The Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Russia, along with American partners from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Vanderbilt University and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, worked with the Dubna Gas-Filled Recoil Separator in combination with the heavy ion accelerator capabilities of the Flerov Laboratory of Nuclear Reactions to create the new elements.

They proposed tennessine in recognition of the contribution of the US state of Tennessee to superheavy element research.

Another joint team of US and Russian scientists proposed oganesson in honor of nuclear physicist Professor Yuri Oganessian for his pioneering contributions to transactinoid elements research. The IUPAC said in a statement his achievements include "the discovery of superheavy elements and significant advances in the nuclear physics of superheavy nuclei including experimental evidence for the island of stability."

Motorhead fans miss out

Newly discovered elements are traditionally named after a geographical place or a scientist.

During the five month public review the group received numerous petitions suggesting alternate names, including one for lemmium after late-Motorhead frontman Lemmy Kilmister, but under current guidelines only the discoverers have naming rights.

"Overall, it was a real pleasure to realize that so many people are interested in the naming of the new elements, including high-school students, making essays about possible names and telling how proud they were to have been able to participate in the discussions,” said Professor Jan Reedijk, President of the Inorganic Chemistry Division in a statement.

"It is a long process from initial discovery to the final naming, and IUPAC is thankful for the cooperation of everyone involved. For now, we can all cherish our periodic table completed down to the seventh row.”

aw/kms (AFP, IUPAC, dpa)

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