Thursday, 3 November 2016

New isotope of lead discovered

Yesterday, the journal Physical Review C published a paper announcing the observation of the isotope 178Pb – an isotope of lead with 96 neutrons and 82 protons.   This ratio of neutrons to protons is pretty extreme for such a heavy element, where the large positive charge of the 82 protons tend to prefer to be padded out with more neutrons than that.  126 neutrons is the number producing the most abundant isotope, so the one just discovered in a reaction at the laboratory at Jyväskylä University in Finland has an amazing 30 neutrons fewer than that most stable isotope.  At the other end of the scale, the heaviest lead isotope so far observed is 220Pb, with 138 neutrons.

The lead (no pun intended) author on the discovery paper is a PhD student, originally from Syria, who is studying at Jyväskylä.  Well done to all involved!