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Four elements have new names announced following their recognition last December.

The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry officially recognized elements 113, 115, 117, and 118, filling out the seventh row of the periodic table. As is the traditional in chemistry, the naming rights go to the discoverers: scientists at RIKEN in Wako, Japan, named element 113, and a Russian-U.S. collaboration named the others.

These elements are not found in nature as they are all short-lived and highly radioactive. They were all created in high-energy physics laboratories where lighter nuclei were smashed into one another and scientists looked for signature radioactive decays that should come from the new elements.


Credit: E. Otwell


Element 113 is “nihonium”, chemical symbol Nh. Its name comes from the Japanese word “Nihon,” (tr: Land of the Rising Sun), a name for Japan.

Element 115 is “moscovium,” chemical symbol Mc, after the Moscow region, home to the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research, where the element was discovered in collaboration with researchers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California and Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee.

Element 117 is “tennessine,” chemical symbol Ts, after the home state of Oak Ridge, Vanderbilt University and the University of Tennessee. (Livermorium, Lv, is already element 116.)

Element 118 is “oganesson,” chemical symbol Og, after the Russian physicist Yuri Oganessian, who contributed to the discovery of several superheavy elements.

The proposed names are expected to be confirmed in November, following a period of public consultation.

Links: IUPAC press release; NY Times coverage; Nature news.


An international team of researchers, led by physicists from Lund University in Sweden, have confirmed the existence of what is considered a new element with atomic number 115. The experiment was conducted at the GSI research facility in Germany. The results confirm earlier measurements performed by research groups in Russia.


By bombarding a thin film of americium (atomic number 95) with calcium ions, the research team was able to measure photons in connection with the new element’s alpha decay. Certain energies of the photons agreed with the expected energies for x-ray radiation, which is a ‘fingerprint’ of a given element.

The new super-heavy element has yet to be named officially, but is known as ununpentium (from its atomic number, 115). A committee comprising members of the international unions of pure and applied physics and chemistry will review the new findings to decide whether to recommend further experiments before the discovery of the new element is acknowledged.

The original press release may be found here. The results were published in the journal Physical Review Letters.