Heavy New Elements Get New Names

The periodic table’s unnamed members just got names. Three new elements Atomic numbers 110, 111 and 112 got named as the General Assembly of the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP), along with the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) agreed to their new names. They are now called darmstadtium (Ds), roentgenium (Rg) and copernicium (Cn), after the German city of Darmstadt, physicist Wilhelm Roentgen and Nicolaus Copernicus respectively.

All of these elements are Transuranic elements meaning that they are extremely heavy (heavier than Uranium) and unstable. They do not occur in Nature (nothing heavier than Uranium does) and can only be synthesized in a laboratory. Even then, these elements survive for a very short time.

Naming Conventions

Earlier the names were given according to the IUPAC prescription for naming elements. The atomic number gave the names. Take an example 111. Each 1 contributes a un’ in the name. The metallic nature of the element adds a ium’ at the end. This atomic no. 111 would be called unununium. Similarly, atomic no. 112 would be called ununbium, with 2′ contributing bi’. 110 would be called ununnilium, 0′ contributing a nil’.

The New Names and the Elements Behind The Names

Atomic Number 110

Ununnilium has been christened darmstadtium, given that it was first synthesized at the GSI facility for Heavy Ion Research near the German city of Darmstadt by Sigurd Hoffmann and his team.

Atomic Number 111

Unununium was replaced by roentegenium, in honour of Wilhelm Roentgen, who was the discoverer of X-rays. He was also the first recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physics, in 1901.

Atomic Number 112

Ununbium received the name copernicium’, in the honour of the great astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus, who was the first one to propose (and stick to!) the heliocentric model of the Solar System (the known Universe at that time). The credit of synthesis again goes to Sigurd Hoffmann, who smashed together zinc and lead atoms to create a single atom of ununbium in 1996. This wasn’t enough to warrant a discovery. Since then, 75 atoms of ununbium have been synthesized worldwide. These numbers should give you a sense of the rarity of these elements!

New Periodic Tables should soon come out with these new elements named. The human contribution to the Periodic Table continues unabated, as we continue our attempts of scientific alchemy.

Periodic Table Gets Longer With Addition Of Two New Elements

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.

The Periodic Table

The Addition

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.

Wedding rings, presumably to be exchanged between two enthusiastic chemists. Better make two more of these now!


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.