Monday, 4 January 2016

Names for new elements on the way

A few days ago, the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC),  announced that they had approved the claims to discovery of elements 113, 115, 117 and 118.  This means that the groups that were awarded priority of claim can now go ahead and pick names for the elements.  Element 113 has gone to the group at RIKEN in Japan, which I had the pleasure to visit in April.  This will be the first time that the group there has had a chance to name an element.  My bet is that they will do something geographic -- nihonium or something like that, to add to the list of synthetic elements named after places significant to their discovery, or to the discoverer.  I guess the trend started with polonium, though plenty of naturally-occurring elements have been named after places where they were discovered, or isolated (e.g. hafnium, strontium, ytterbium ...)

The other three elements, 115, 117 and 118, have gone to a collaboration between JINR (Dubna, Russia), LLNL (California, USA) and ORNL (Tennessee, USA).  Perhaps they will divvy one element to each of the three groups to name.  LLNL is Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.  There is already a lawrencium (element 103) and a livermorium (element 116), not to mention californium (98), so they will have to think of something else.  Moscovium might be on the cards, it being the oblast in which Dubna is sited, and a previously mooted suggestion.