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five properties of element 113
It was always going to be a battle to get element 113 on the periodic table. But, after more than a century of fighting, Japanese scientists were finally awarded the honour in November 2016 (see ‘Nihonium – a blemish on Japan’). It’s just one of four newly discovered elements to have been recognised by governing body IUPAC.
RIKEN’s Kosuke Morita and his team used a particle accelerator to create a single atom of the element in July 2004 and again in April 2005. Both times the atom rapidly decayed, splintering into heavier atomic fragments that eventually decayed into dubnium and its neighbours.
The decay chains RIKEN recorded indicated that the fusion product was element 113, but it wasn’t conclusive. A US-Russian team at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California and the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Dubna had also been working on the element and were using a different method to try to discover it. Their results also suggested that 113 could be produced through a fission reaction, but they weren’t sure whether their fusion products began with 113 or its parent dubnium.
A third team, working at the GSI Helmholtz Centre for Heavy Ion Research in Darmstadt, Germany, also thought they had made a fusion product containing element 113. But the isotope they recorded had a short half-life and didn’t produce an agreed sequence of stable atoms indicating that it was the element 113.