Scientists Confirm New Element 117 Production

An international team of researchers has confirmed the existence of highly radioactive element 117 or ununseptium. After four years, the element was first spotted by US and Russian researchers. The researchers at the GSI Helmholtz Centre for Heavy Ion Research in Darmstadt, Germany, have been able to create four atoms of ununseptium.

Like other super-heavy elements, ununseptium lasts only for fractions of seconds before decaying into other elements. As per researchers, its creation is considered to be a latest step towards the 'island of stability'.

A purified berkelium-249 produced at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, US, was bombarded with a beam of neutron-rich isotope of calcium at the GSI lab. Result of bombardment was the fusion of the two nuclei. "You produce literally only a few atoms over several weeks and these have a half-life of about 50 milliseconds", said team leader Christoph Düllmann from Johannes Gutenburg University of Mainz in Germany.

With the help of upgraded detector array in the centre, the decay chain of element 117 was monitored and lead to confirmation and production of the element. Another thing being noticed was the decay chain was longer than when 117, was first produced in 2010.

The confirmation of element 117 means that the periodic table of elements would soon welcome an addition of the new element. It is now up to the International Unions of Pure and Applied Physics and Chemistry to decide whether to include the new element or not on the basis of provided evidence.

The paper detailing the experiment would be published in the journal Physics Review Letters.