Breaking news – four new elements have been added to the periodic table. I’m sure chemists are paid to do this by the companies who make period tables to get us to buy new ones. OK, that’s a bad joke. Bad jokes aside, here are some more information about these new elements.
The elements added have proton numbers 113, 115, 117, 118.
Element 118 would be placed in group 18. This means that the seventh period of the periodic table is now complete – we could think of the tables as being ‘full’.
On a side note, I do like the way the media is saying the seventh ‘row’ is now full.
However, the names are yet to be chosen by the discovers. Under the IUPAC (International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry) naming rules new elements “can be named after a mythological concept, a mineral, a place or country, a property or a scientist.” The proposed name will need to be submitted to IUPAC for approval.
So, at the moment we are stuck with:
113 ununtrium, (Uut)
115 ununpentium (Uup)
117 ununseptium (Uus)
118 ununoctium (Uuo)
Uut has the claim to fame as being the first element discovered in Asia (although manufactured may be a more precise term).
If you had discovered one of these elements, what would you call it? Presumably UUo would be unreactive as it would fit in the Noble Gas group – but would it be a gas? Maybe it would be a liquid as the London Dispersion forces may be strong enough to keep it at a liquid at room temperature.
Could, it be called (after it’s property) something along the lines of unreactinium?
What about 117 (Uus) – would it has similar properties to the halogens? It would be in the same group. What color would it be? Would it be a solid, liquid and gas at room temperature? Would it react with sodium?
The problem scientists have with these elements though it two fold.
Firstly, they are very unstable and break down into more stable elements very quickly (less than 1 second) and secondly, only a handful of the elements are made anyway.
They are so unstable as they are made by firing small atoms (eg a calcium atom) at the nuclei of a larger atom. Think about it, this can’t be very easy!
So, I guess it may be a while until we see the properties of these elements being revealed!