Science & technology
'Ununseptium' - Periodic Table’s 117th ElementPublish Date: May 04, 2014
'Ununseptium' - Periodic Table’s 117th Element
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This 394-feet-long tube accelerated calcium ions to produce element 117 in Germany. Photo: Universitaet Mainz
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A new super heavy element, “Ununseptium” was created in a German laboratory by a team of physicists, chemists and researchers from Australian National University (ANU). It is going to be the 117th element of the periodic table.

It was back in the year, 2010 when the discovery of element 117 was first announced. The original experiment was repeated in 2012. The study was, however, published in the Physical Review Letters, an U.S. journal.

The present experiment was performed by the scientists at the GSI Helmholtz Center for Heavy Ion Research, an accelerator laboratory located in Darm-stadt, Germany.

In this experiment, a berkelium target with calcium ions were bombarded by scientists until they collided and formed element 117, that further decayed into elements 113 and 115.Scientists produced it during an 18-month-long period.

This involved intense neutron irradiation at the High Flux Isotope Reactor at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in U.S., followed by chemical separation and purification at ORNL’s Radiochemical Engineering Development Center.

As a matter of fact, more the number of protons and neutrons are added into an atomic nucleus, the more unstable an atom becomes. The life span of most super-heavy elements, before undergoing decay, is just microseconds or nanoseconds.

The present success in making element 117 can be considered as an important step in the path of producing and detecting super-heavy elements on the “island of stability”.

According to Thom Mason, the director of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the trick lies in understanding the quantum physics going on when the reaction takes place to form these new elements and try, if possible, to work out the way and how to proceed to elements 119 and 120.

The implications from the discovery of the afore-mentioned element are uncountable. Its’ status as an element will soon be decided by a committee from the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC).

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