Periodic table gains four new elements

The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry approved the names and symbols of four new elements: Moscovium, Nihonium, Oganesson and Tennessine. These elements were submitted for review four years ago and have gone under strict testing to establish characterization and assignment properties that prove the new elements to be unique from existing elements.

Nihonium, a super metal located on the right side of the periodic table under Thallium, was first detected in experiments in 2004 and 2005. In 2013, after further experimentation at RIKEN Linear Accelerator Facility, the element was formally discovered. Moscovium was discovered through the bombardment of the americium-243 and calcium-48 ions where the decay patterns were reported to confirm the existence of element 115. Oganesson was first detected in 2002 after a four-month experiment.

Following the filing for claims of discovery, the scientists were invited to submit names for their new elements to the IUPAC Inorganic Chemistry Division. Traditionally, elements are named after a place or country, mineral, mythological concept or scientist. Names of elements are usually within the established chemical standard where suffixes are reflective of the group in which the element belongs: “ium” for elements in groups one through 16, “ine” for group 17 and “on” for group 18. Nihonium, element 113, was discovered and proposed by scientists at RIKEN Nishina Center for Accelerator-Based Science. The element was named Nihonium after the word “Nihon” which is the Japanese word for “Japan” and translates to “land rise of the rising sun.” The proposing teams also gave it that name in an effort to build more faith in science within those affected by the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011. Nihonium is the first element to be discovered in an Asian country.

Elements 115 and 117, Moscovium and Tennessine, were discovered by scientists at the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research, an international scientific research organization, with scientists hailing from Russia and the United States. Moscovium was named after the Moscow region in Russia, which is home to the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research. Tennessine is named after the state of Tennessee in homage to Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the University of Tennessee at Knoxville and Vanderbilt University for their achievements in research of heavy metals. Oganesson, element number 118, discovered by the Joint Institute of Nuclear Research and the Lawrence Livermore National Library, was named after scientist Professor Yuri Oganesson for his explorations and achievements in super heavy elements and nuclei.

The process for naming an element consists of several steps. After the acceptance of the claim of discovery, the IUPAC would invite the finding parties to suggest a name and abbreviation. Within that six month period, other parties are allowed to participate in the public discourse, even high school students who wrote essays on what they believed the name should be and how glad they were to be included in that discourse, according to IUPAC President Natalia Tarasova.