The heaviest metal yet discovered, element 117, also known as ununseptium (Uus) until a more official name gets determined for it, is a superheavy metal created in 2010 in a laboratory by Russian and American scientists and it is getting closer and closer to being added to the official Periodic Table of Elements. That’s right; soon, there might be one further element for you to memorize, if you’re a high school or college student. A paper describing how the scientists created new element was recently published in Physical Review Letters.
Before element 117 can be officially added to the official Periodic Table of Elements, other scientists must independently confirm its existence. So far, 72 scientists and engineers have confirmed that ununseptium is a new superheavy element, and deserves to be included in the official Periodic Table of Elements. The engineers and scientists come from around the globe, from more than 16 different institutions. Still, the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) must examine the new data before ununseptium can be made an official element and added to the Periodic Table of Elements.
How was the existence of ununseptium confirmed?
Element 117, ununseptium, is a very unstable element, as are many of the superheavy manmade elements are past one hundred on the official Periodic Table of elements. It is so unstable that in under a second, it begins to decay into other elements. It contains 117 protons in its nucleus.
Element 117, in fact, was never actually observed by any scientists, at all. Rather, the scientists saw the atoms of the elements that resulted from the decay of element 117, and confirmed the existence of ununseptium in a sort of reverse manner of observation. Two of the decay products that result when element 117 decays are isotopes of elements 103 and 105, according to a report by Forbes.com. These two elements piqued the interest of scientists, as they are a couple of the most stable superheavy isotopes that have been discovered by scientists.
If element 117 becomes an official part of the Periodic Table of Elements, it would be called a Group VII element. Other elements in this group included bromine, chlorine, and flourine.
How was element 117 created by the scientists?
The American and Russian scientists that first created element 117 began their experiment using Berkelium atoms. They slammed calcium ions at them at high speeds, which resulted in fusing the Berkelium and calcium ions and the creation of element 117, ununseptium.
According to a statement made by Oak Ridge National Laboratory Director Thom Mason, the discovery of the new element ununseptium is “a compelling example of international cooperation in science,” one which serves to advance “superheavy element research.”
The discovery of the heaviest metal ever was made when a team of Russians and Americans created element 117, or ununseptium, in a laboratory. Though it has not yet been officially added to the Periodic Table of Elements, it is likely only a matter of time before element 117 is recognized by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC).
Written by: Douglas Cobb