(CBS NEWS) -- The periodic table may soon gain a new element, physicists at Lund University in Sweden announced Tuesday.
team of Lund researchers is the second to successfully create atoms of
element 115. Officials from the International Union of Pure and Applied
Chemistry will now review the experiment to determine if Element 115
deserves an official spot on the periodic table of elements.
named "ununpentium", Element 115 is super heavy and unstable. It was
first created in 2003 at the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in
Dubna, Russia, in collaboration with scientists from California's
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. The initial experiment lasted
from July 14 to Aug. 10, 2003, but the scientists spent years preparing
On its website,
the Lawrence Livermore lab explains the arduous process of discovering a
new element. The first step was to produce suitable targets, in this
case made of element americium-243, an isotope that has 95 protons and
148 neutrons. Once prepared, the targets are placed inside a cyclotron,
where they are blasted with calcium-48 ions, containing 20 protons and
28 neutrons. The collision of the americium-243 and calcium-48 produced
Elements on the periodic table are given atomic
numbers based on the number of protons in their nuclei. When researchers
synthesized element 115 in the lab, they were able to produce two
isotopes, which survived for 30 to 80 milliseconds before starting to
decay. Each lost two neutrons, thereby becoming element 113. The element
113 isotopes survived slightly longer before also decaying.
initial four atoms of element 115 were enough to signify a discovery,
but not enough to earn it an official spot on the periodic table of
elements. However, the successful duplication could be the extra
evidence scientists needed.
"This was a very successful
experiment and is one of the most important in the field in recent
years," Dirk Rudolph, a Lund University professor of nuclear physics,
said in a statement.
history tells us anything, element 115 could keep its unofficial name
for quite awhile. After being discovered in 1974, element 106 was
finally given the name seaborgium some 23 years later. More recently,
element 114 sat on the periodic table for 14 years before earning the
The researchers will publish their findings in the Aug. 27 edition of the journal Physical Review Letters.