National / Science & Health

Riken team eyes naming rights to element 113 in January

Kyodo

An international body of chemistry and physics is set to announce in late January whether a Japanese or joint U.S.-Russian team will be handed the naming rights for atomic element 113, a new synthetic provisionally named ununtrium, Japanese scientists said Saturday.

The U.S.-Russia team first discovered the element in 2003, earlier than the Japanese team, but the data recorded by Japan’s Riken institute in 2012 is considered to be conclusive, according to the scientists. If Riken wins the naming rights, it would be the first time for scientists from Asia.

A joint working group set up by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry and the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics will announce which team was able to conclusively identify the super heavy element after creating it, thus securing the right to name it, in a scientific paper to be published in a journal next month, they said.

Synthetic elements do not occur naturally on Earth and are produced artificially through experiments; 24 have been created and all are unstable. Plutonium, the most well known synthetic element due to its use in the creation of the atomic bomb, was later found to occur naturally.

The new element has 113 protons in its nucleus. A Riken team led by Kosuke Morita, now a professor at Kyushu University, succeeded in creating it three times by colliding zinc ions with a thin layer of bismuth in 2004, 2005 and 2012.

Zinc has 30 protons in its nucleus and bismuth has 83.

The U.S.-Russia team says it produced element 113 earlier than Japan using a different method.