Four newly discovered elements need names. These latest additions to the periodic table are currently known by their assigned atomic numbers of 113, 115, 117 and 118. Boring!
The task of picking the final name falls to the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC), but the scientists who discovered the new elements can offer suggestions. It’s already been decided that the elements will have specific endings — 113 and 115 will finish with “ium,” 117 with “ine” and 118 with “on.”
How the Elements Might Be Named
So how will these elements get their names? Will those responsible simply pull random suggestions out of a hat? Well, probably not. Here’s what we know about the elements and what might inform their naming:
1. Element 113
This element is metal and is highly radioactive. A group of scientists from Japan’s Riken Institute were responsible for discovering the synthetic element. They accomplished this with zinc ions moving at 10% the speed of light and bombarding a thin layer of the metal called bismuth.
Some of these particles fused during the process to form an atom of element 113. The IUPAC has granted the Riken Institute the chance to name their discovery, which will make it the very first periodic table element to be discovered and named in Asia. Until the official name is chosen, however, the element will temporarily be called Ununtrium with the symbol Uut.
2. Element 115
Like the other three new elements, this one was artificially created in a particle accelerator. It was originally discovered by Russian scientists, and then it was confirmed in 2013 by a team of physicists from all over the world. The team was led by researchers from Lund University.
The element is now referred to as Ununpentium, with the symbol Uup, until a name can be decided on.
3. Element 117
This element is one of the heaviest ever — with one atom weighing about 40% more than one lead atom. The discovery was made in 2010 when a Russia-USA team of researchers worked together at the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Dubna, Russia.
For now, it is being called Ununseptium, with the temporary symbol of Uus, until a name is decided.
4. Element 118
This element, which is likely a gas at room temperature, evaded some scientists. In 1999, it was announced that the Lawrence Berk
eley National Laboratory in California had successfully created the element by slamming lead atoms into krypton atoms.
But these results were retracted three years later in 2002, when it was revealed that falsified data was used.
The actual discovery was made in Russia in 2006 at the same laboratory where element 117 was crafted. Temporarily, it is known as Ununoctium with the element symbol Uuo, and it will remain designated as such until a permanent name is chosen.
Who Will Decide the Final Names of the Elements?
Although it’s been awhile since some of the four newly minted periodic table elements have been discovered, it’s only recently that the IUPAC verified them. Now we wait to see what the discovering scientists suggest in the way of names.
But IUPAC does demand the titles follow their naming convention, specifically that the names must involve “a mythological concept, a mineral, a place or country, a property or a scientist.”
Any proposed name/symbol will be approved by the Inorganic Chemistry Division of IUPAC. They want to check for consistency, how translatable the name is across various languages and what other uses the name has possessed historically.
Once that panel accepts a name and its two-letter symbol, the public will get five months to review it. Then the highest body of IUPAC, the Council, gets the final say on what will be permanently added to the Periodic Table of the Elements.
What will the Council decide for the final names? We wait with bated breath to see!