A team of Japanese scientists has reportedly managed to synthesize element 113, which the researchers have temporarily dubbed “ununtrium,” or one-one-three.
Element 113 – which is extremely unstable – can only be created in a laboratory.
Indeed, superheavy elements do not occur in nature and must be artificially produced via experiments
involving nuclear reactors or particle accelerators, via processes of nuclear fusion or neutron absorption.
The latest effort took Kosuke Morita and his research team nine years before they discovered the right formula to create the element.
Essentially, Morita collided zinc, which has 30 protons, with bismuth, which has 83. The result? An atom with 113 protons in its nucleus.
As expected, 113 quickly decayed by shedding alpha particles, which consist of two protons and two neutrons each. This process occurred six times, transforming element 113 into element 111, then 109, 107, 105, 103 and element 101 (Mendelevium).
“I would like to thank all the researchers and staff involved in this momentous result, who persevered with the belief that one day, 113 would be ours,” Morita said in an official statement. “For our next challenge, we look to the uncharted territory of element 119 and beyond.”
It should be noted that snce the first such element was discovered in 1940, the United States, Russia and Germany have competed to synthesize more of them. Elements 93 to 103 were discovered by the Americans, elements 104 to 106 by the Russians and the Americans, elements 107 to 112 by the Germans, and the two most recently named elements, 114 and 116, by cooperative work of the Russians and Americans.