The Periodic Table of chemical elements just got longer. Two new elements, having atomic numbers 114 and 116 have been added to the list, which already contains elements till atomic number 112 with no intermediate gaps. These new elements have not been named as yet and are now known only by their scientific names.
The Periodic Table
The Periodic Table is a table of all known chemical elements arranged according to increasing atomic number (Atomic number is the number of protons in the nucleus of an atom of the element). This kind of arrangement is particularly useful from the point of view of chemistry because it helps uncover great amounts of information by using the concept of periodicity of properties of elements. For example, Sulphur, placed below Oxygen, behaves very much like Oxygen in many chemical reactions, just like Silicon is similar to Carbon.
This addition comes after a three-year review by the governing bodies of chemistry and physics, namely International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) and International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP). There have been many claims to the fabrication of new substances with atomic numbers 113, 114, 115, 116 and 118. Only 114 and 116 have been cleared for addition into the Periodic Table. Both elements were made by a collaborative team comprising scientists from the Nuclear Research in Dubna, Russia and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, California.
All elements above element no. 92 (Uranium) are artificially made, as they are not found in nature. All of them are radioactive, some highly so. Elements 114 and 116 are also very radioactive with a half-life of less than a second. Heavier elements are known to be more unstable. Interestingly, no group claimed to have made element number 117. The concept of magic numbers in physics tells us that element number 126 maybe more stable than expected, but we are still far from there.
Naming of these new elements is given by the guidelines set by IUPAC. Element number 114 is named ununquadium. Don’t get scared, there’s really nothing to it. The 1’s in 114 give un’. The last 4 gives quad’. Metallic nature gives the ending ium’. Similarly, element no. 116 is known as ununhexium, hex’ coming from the 6. The hypothetical 117 would be ununheptium and so on…
Gone are the days when making a new element could be compared to the mystical art of alchemy. You don’t get a Nobel Prize, unlike Madame Curie, for making new elements nowadays. It’s still a challenge, but it’s not as difficult as it used to be. Chemistry students may be rest assured that these new elements won’t add to their course material.