New element

Print edition : September 20, 2013

AN international team of researchers, led by physicists from Lund University, Sweden, has presented fresh evidence of the existence of a super-heavy previously unknown chemical element, yet to be named, with the atomic number 115.

The experiment was conducted at the GSI Helmholtz Centre for Heavy Ion Research (GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung GmbH) research facility in Darmstadt, Germany. The results confirm earlier measurements performed by research groups in Russia. Besides the observations of the new chemical element, the researchers have also gained access to data that give them a deeper insight into the structure and properties of super-heavy atomic nuclei.

By bombarding a thin film of americium 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. 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.